I have this vivid memory from when I was about 12, thinking about who I might marry when I grew up. At that time, my world view was very limited, my options made up of people I knew.
I grew up in a small town, a village that was just one square mile in size. Everyone knew everyone. We knew the pizza guy, the Chinese food lady, the nail salon staff, the video store owner. It was the town that young couples moved to after life in the city to raise families. A wholesome community just outside of New York City. Ideal in many ways.
This upbringing created in me a small town mentality. There is something about your world view, the values established, the experience that is hard to explain. I remember being in the thick of it, a teenager sick of seeing the same faces everyday. As soon as I got my car, I’d escape. And I did – to all of the neighboring small towns.
Then I went college. Determined to expand my world view, I refused to even apply to a school in New York. I knew after college that I wanted to take to the big city. In my mind, college was my opportunity to explore. I went to school in Western Mass, a college town, so small in its own right, before returning to that familiar small town I grew up in. I would never make it to living in the city. I’ve been hopping around suburban cities outside of NYC, close to where I grew up for nearly 10 years, venturing into New York daily for work, traveling as my means of exploration.
It took a while to recognize that I was drawn to this small town mentality. So when it came time to pick a life partner, my 12 year old self wasn’t too far off. My husband grew up in another small town outside the city, some 20 minutes from my hometown. To me, there’s an obvious connection in what our upbringings were like, and it’s comforting and makes conversation effortless in some ways.
The number of people I grew up with who did in fact end up marrying each other is actually impressive. It surprised me for a while, but now I understand. We were lucky to be raised in our small town. You don’t always have to go so far to find just what you’re looking for.
And now, as I consider my options for where to raise my family, it’s no surprise that I won’t end up far from my small town.