I’m from a small town. I’m from a place where people say hello when they pass each other on the sidewalk; a place where people sit on their front porch, and not on the rooftop of their condo. I’m from a small town, and after living for over a year in “the big city”, as people back home refer to Toronto, I couldn’t be more proud to be born outside the 41647. Not that I don’t like you big city folk- I am one of you now. But something inside of me will always be a little different.
In a small town, you know people. Really know them. You know their mom, dad, siblings, and cousins. You remember their birthday because of the cupcake chart your grade 3 teacher had on the wall. You remember when they struggled with the death of a family member, and when they made the football team in high school. It changes your relationship with them. When you return home over Christmas, during weekends in the summer, or sporadically throughout the year you waste no time on small talk. You simply fall back into a perfect routine.
Friends that grow up together in a small town stick together. When we run into each other at university, or later on as young adults, you get a sense of home. You help each other to the front of the line at the club, share your alcohol with them at a pre drink, or allow any and all of their new friends over. Because when you’re from a small town, all these gestures aren’t going above and beyond, it’s simply what you do.
When you’re from a small town, you invite people over, and offer them food and a drink no matter the time. You say hello to your neighbours and help the elderly cross the street. When you’re from a small town, you move a little more slow. You don’t brush shoulders as you rush past people at the mall or go to restaurants with à la carte dining. You’ve grown up eating at chain restaurants and that one fancy place for when it’s a special occasion. You make an ice rink in your backyard, and play until your mom screams from the backdoor for you to come inside. Your science teacher is also your best friend’s mother and your sister dated your basketball coach. High school sports matter more than you’ll ever know or understand. But it’s all part of the community; a little world all our own.
I love my Toronto friends. I don’t think they would switch growing up in their North Toronto duplex for my small town escape but that’s okay because although I wouldn’t admit it growing up, looking back, I would’t change it either. I may not have rode the subway to cool after hours parties in high school, and I may not have looked up to see sky scrappers from my bedroom window, but I played basketball in my driveway and my parents rarely locked the front door. I felt safe at all times, and had parties in woods.
So while I never thought I would say this, or write this, I love not being from a city. I love where I grew up and I wouldn’t change it for a big city, a booming metropolis or anything in-between.