Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On Small Town Life

I left home one month after my high school graduation and embarked on a 4 year 
adventure in the United States Navy, traveling to multiple countries and sailing through 
the Pacific Ocean.  I lived in San Diego, CA and Yokosuka, Japan: a small town girl in awe 
of the big city lights.  Being on my own, young and free, living in a small apartment one 
block away from my favorite restaurant: it was an amazing adventure.  After Shawn and 
I got married and finished our time in the service, we moved to New Orleans, spending 
the first 4 years of our marriage wrapped up in love in our favorite city.  Late 
nights, drunken revelry, friends around every corner: it was our time to just BE.  I loved 
the freedom of walking to the neighborhood bar, Sunday afternoons in City Park, reading 
the paper at our local coffee shop.  The big city life was fast and cool and magical.  
I loved it.
But then Isabelle came along and a whole new place in our hearts opened up and 
swallowed us whole.  I remember being 38 weeks pregnant, my belly so big and round, 
my parents driving down to the big city to spend the weekend with us and help with the
 final preparations.  I remember standing on the curb as they drove away from 
our apartment, waving as they headed back to my hometown on the bayou.  I 
remember crying big tears as I blew them kisses: a little Cajun girl missing home.
When Shawn and I found out that we were pregnant for Belle, it took us all of 3 seconds 
to decide we wanted to move back home.  As much as we loved the city life, we 
couldn't imagine not having our baby around all the aunts and uncles and cousins.  
We couldn't imagine not having her near her roots, the place I am so strongly tied to, 
the place Shawn now considers his home as well.  And so we packed our 2 week old baby
 up, put our few belongings in a U-Haul truck and made the drive to the town that has 
made me who I am.
It wasn't easy at first, getting used to the small town life.  We were bored, no longer in 
our element, wandering what to do and where to go.  It took us quite a while to get used 
to the quiet, the slow and easy pace.  But, slowly, our hearts began to open up to the 
comfort that only a big front porch and a sunset over the bayou can offer.  We could 
no longer walk to Starbuck's for coffee, but we could walk to my grandmother's house 
for afternoon tea.  Our favorite restaurants were no longer seconds away, but we got
 to enjoy big Sunday dinners with the whole family instead.  There was no need to go to 
a park for Isabelle to play: we had acres and acres of land for her to roam through.  Our
 lives became redefined, our priorities changed.  And, over time, living the small town 
life became the life we were always meant to live.
Though I sometimes miss the anonymity of city life, I value the familiarity of our lives 
here.  When I walk into the post office, the post master hands me my mail as we talk 
about our gardens.  Grocery shopping is filled with hellos and how are yous as I 
pass neighbors and familiar faces.  The local mechanic, police officers, and church clergy 
are the very same people I knew as a little girl.  There is a sense of community 
and comraderie as we have surrounded ourselves with people who know and love us. 
 The convenience of the city is still missed as I have to drive further and make more of 
an effort to get things done.  But, I've learned to take the good with the bad.
This small town life is part of who I am, my Cajun roots tied so deeply in the depths of 
my family.  When we are all together, things just seem right.  Life has slowed down and
 so have we.  Here, in our little small town, our girls will be surrounded by the things 
that matter most to us: family, love, and simplicity.  






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Deanna Fike said...

i know that peppy and i probably won't live in north alabama forever. but having little ones, i have realized that family is the most important aspect in my life. so while my kids are young we will definitely be staying here so that they can be around family. your little family is fortunate to be around so many loved ones as well. :) 

SarbearReeves said...

I always get a little homesick myself when looking at your photos and hearing of your adventures on the bayou. In my life it was running the open fields, gravel roads, and creek beds in southern Missouri and I feel that was the largest part of shaping me into who I am today. My family has faced struggles and that is not a place I can really go back to and call home, but I long for a place that has much of the same because there really is nothing like that slow pace, that space, that room to breathe.

Nessa said...

Oh man that food looks amazing.

Neither me or my husband grew up like that - but we are really starting to crave that life.  Especially since we moved to where we live now.  A tight little community in a big city.  

Caitlin A. said...

Love this. We are all about small-town life and have never lived in a city...we just love the quiet too much.  I totally get wanting to be around family with kids...I grew up with all my cousins and it was the best.

Jodi Hall said...

I went to my parents house yesterday for my birthday and i spent my birthday with my grandfather (whos birthday i was born on) for the first time since i was like 12.. As i was heading home i was sad because it was such a great day and i realized how much i missed everyone.. plus my parents live in a small town and its so much quieter then the town i live in now.. It was a really good day. :) 

Olivia said...

Sounds awesome, Jodi!!!  I bet your grandfather cherished his birthday so much having you there!!

Olivia said...

We love the quiet, too.  It really is so soothing and refreshing.  And I hear you on the cousins: my very best friends in the world are my cousins.  We grew up together and are still so close.  Nothing better than family.

Olivia said...

Cajuns are all about food!!  I think it's awesome that you are cultivating that close knit community for your family.  It's just so comforting.

Olivia said...

Oh Sara, how exciting that yall get to build your own little version of your childhood with your own baby now!  Everything that was good and meaningful to you then, you can give it to your own child now!!

Olivia said...

Very fortunate indeed!!  Shawn and I talk about whether or not we will stay here forever, too.  Who knows?  If our girls all pick up and move away, we'd probably be those dorky parents who buy a camper and follow them:)

Vanessa said...

I'm seriously considering packing up and driving to visit you. Your bayou life makes me so vicariously happy!

Olivia said...

DO IT!!!!!