You know you grew up in a small town when…
You graduated high school with the same people that you graduated kindergarten with.
My high school was made up of 3 small towns and consisted of about 400 students. That meant my graduating class had about 100 students, maybe even less. The kids I stood next to at my high school graduation were also the same kids I went to kindergarten with. Oh and we also played t-ball, made our first communion, did Girl Scouts and spent 12 years growing up together in my very small town. We knew everyone’s first and last names and their siblings and their parents and most of their cousins too.
Everyone knows everyone.
I’m not even joking. It’s either because they are all related or their dad used to work with someone else’s dad. Or maybe even their great grandmas used to be best friends. It doesn’t matter. Everyone knows everyone, someway or another. That’s a wonderful place to grow up in, right? Yes and no. As a teenager, I had the fear of getting caught branded into me. I knew that no matter what I tried to do, someone would have seen me that knew my mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents. I would have been guilty before the thought of committing the crime. There’s no such thing as a secret in a small town.
You give directions using local landmarks.
Yes, I know the road names in my town…kinda. It’s so much easier to tell someone to go up town hill, take a left by Hoppy’s, take another left at the four corners, keep going past the children’s fair church and a left after Pizza Haven (by the way, I just gave you directions in a big circle). It’s what we do, or at least what I have always done. This can get really tricky when someone out of town is looking for directions.
Your teachers had your parents as students too.
Soon after I started high school, teachers were recognizing my last name and who my parents were. I didn’t know if it was for good or bad reasons. I’m sure my parents were not the most well-behaved students in high school. Lets be honest, who really was well-behaved in high school anyways? Okay, I understand if your older siblings created a reputation (good or bad) for you, but your parents?! That’s so unfair!
Parking lots were the only places to hang out.
I guess I wasn’t one of those “cool” kids at a party in the middle of the woods. Instead, I spent most of my nights as a teenager hanging out in a parking lot, until the cops showed up of course. We would spend hours listening to music and just hanging out together. Believe me, it got boring and it got boring fast but I don’t think I would ever change it. What else would we be doing anyways? Walking around a mall looking at clothes that we couldn’t afford? By the way, the nearest mall was about an hour away. It might have been boring but if I was hanging out with my best friends it didn’t matter what we were doing.
Anytime you hear sirens, you assume you know the person involved.
I’m guilty of this just as much as all my other small town people! Remember how I said everyone knows everyone? Well, if you know your brother is out driving around and you hear sirens, you automatically assume that it’s him. Honestly, what are the chances? But actually in a small town, how many other people could be out and about? And if it’s not your brother, it has to be someone you know and when it’s not – it’s totally mind boggling.
There’s no stop lights and minimal street lights.
I promise I didn’t grow up with the Amish. Actually. Just kidding – but I did grow up in a small town that didn’t have any stop lights and minimal street lights. I never realized until recently how dark it is when driving at night! If it makes you feel any better, we do have a couple yellow blinking lights. I know, crazy!
Your town has unique traditions.
The Pots and Pans Parade – the first parade on the 4th of July and guess what time it starts at? Midnight. At 12 AM every fire truck in the area starts blaring their horns and people lead the parade banging on pots and pans. I promise I’m not making this up. There’s also the tradition for high school seniors. Each year before graduation, they spray paint their name in front of their driveway. I don’t know when or why it started but it’s become a huge small town controversy. Half the town thinks it’s ridiculous to allow kids to vandalize the roads. The other half says let the kids have fun and show their school pride. I may or may not have participated in this tradition.
Animals escape and it’s no big deal.
On more than one occasion, I’ve seen farm animals out and about on their own. Once I saw pigs strutting down the road and another time, a horse trotting by himself. I’ll admit, it was odd but it wasn’t completely ridiculous. Our town’s Facebook group (hello small town entertainment/drama) is always filled with posts like, “Who’s cows are these?” “Oh must be so and so’s again, they escaped last week too” – completely normal small town happenings.
No one knows where you are from.
You meet someone new. They ask where you are from. You contemplate on what you should tell them because you know they have never heard of your town before. Should you say the nearest city? Or is that lying? Your palms are sweaty. Okay, I was exaggerating that a bit with the last part but in all seriousness no one knows where you are from. I’ve learned to explain it by naming two cities and saying I live somewhere in the middle. The best part is when someone insists on knowing them the name of your town even though you know they have never heard of it before. You go ahead with their wishes and sure enough they have no idea where it is.
Even though there were times when I hated growing up in a small town, I wouldn’t ever trade it for anything else.
Did you grow up in a small town?