Growing up in the city of Minneapolis, I had no clue what small rural towns were all about. In 2000 I moved from Fargo/ Moorhead( where I went to college) to Underwood, ND, a town of about 850 people.
Initially I was overwhelmed by the fact that people knew my name. Then it seemed like everyone knew what I was doing or had done. After that, I realized that more and more people were related to my husband, everyone was family, and I could never just "be alone". I felt as if I couldn't even use the bathroom without someone finding out how many squares of toilet paper I used.
After some time, other people moved into town and they became the ones that people examined. I became a thing of the past and it was no big deal if I wore my flannel pants to the grocery store.
Through the process of becoming familiar and comfortable in my new hometown, I became to realize that yes, people are noisier than those in my neighborhood in Minneapolis, but that they mean well. They want to make sure that they get to know you so that they feel secure. They are also watching out for you and others. I figured out that they really didn't care if my lights never came on at night or that I left my TV on all night or that my garbage can stayed at the end of my driveway for several days instead of returning back next to the house immediately after the trash was picked up. They cared that there was a change or that something was different. They wanted to make sure everything was OK.
After living in a small town now for 13 years, I will say that I still feel this is true. The people care. They care about their property, their families, their communities, and their neighbors. I can honestly say that if there is one thing that small towns do well, it is pull together in tough times! Whether it be illness, injury, accident, tragedy or loss of a loved one, people, even those we don't feel close to, come together to lend a hand, offer support, and help out.
So, the next time I sigh and think about the 45 minute drive I have to get to Walmart or that I can't find a birthday gift for that last minute party one of my kids was invited to, I will remember what small towns are all about... support, socialization, and security!