Our Broken Driveway (a.k.a. Life in a Small Town)


My husband and I knew one another at least 20 years before we became a couple and got married, but in fact, he remembers me from even earlier than that: although we didn’t actually meet, we were at the same university when he was just finishing his masters and I was just starting a bachelor in education. We were talking one day about our university experiences when all of a sudden, he exclaimed, “Oh, YOU were the girl who used to walk around looking at her feet!”.

Painfully shy, the two years I attended that university were the loneliest years of my life. Because I have never made friends effortlessly, I spent a lot of time with my head down, just trudging from one class to the next. Watching my feet was easier than looking up and facing the fact that I had almost no friends or social life.

When I moved to Québec City – a notoriously difficult city to integrate into – I spent the first 15 years or so pretty much the same way. Back in those early days, I had a lot of colleagues whom I cared for and called friends, but our social activities never extended to after hours. You can be completely anonymous in Québec City. People are courteous but also wary and aloof: no one does ‘small talk’ with a stranger. They do not look at you and you do not look at them.

The culture shock when we moved back to New Brunswick was immense. This was our home province so we knew that people tended to be friendly and kind, but my husband grew up in the roughest city in the province and I had left my good-sized town when I was 18: all my experience with socializing had been in high school, with a group of friends I had known since grade 6. Nothing prepared us for the complete and utter lack of invisibility that happens when you move into a (very) small town.

I am dreadful at names – always have been – and usually place a face but can’t recall where I have met the person. It is so strange to me that pretty much everyone here knows who we are, where we came from and why we are here. Mind you, they all ask anyway (who we are, where we came from and why we are here): there is always the chance of picking up a bit of gossip that no one else has heard yet.

It can be a bit disconcerting, though, meeting people for the first time who already feel they know a lot about you. Recently, my husband went shopping two towns up the river and – as one is wont to do around these parts – he had a nice conversation with the lady behind the counter before completing his purchase. It didn’t matter that he was meeting her for the first time; that is how folks are around these parts: warm, welcoming and friendly. To his surprise, however, just as he was leaving, she asked, “So is the town going to be doing something about your driveway? It looks pretty bad. You must be very upset.”

The thing is, we have indeed been very upset about the driveway. All winter, the snow plough man kept ploughing as far in as the shoulder of the street; the result being that he kept hitting – and then chipping away at – our driveway. By spring, huge, heavy chunks of asphalt from both sides of our driveway were either on our lawn or strewn halfway up the street. What surprised my husband was that a woman working two towns away not only knew who he was; but knew where he lived; knew that that our yard was a mess and was neighbourly enough to ask him if the town was going to do something about it (I am happy to report: they are).

Now please do not get me wrong: after spending our adulthood living in an indifferent and impersonal city, coming to a place where everyone knows your name – not to mention your woes with the snow plough man – is…wonderful, refreshing and comforting. After 35 years of living with apathy and disinterest, we both feel a little like we have died and gone straight to heaven. Yes, we have lost all anonymity: we are aware that it would be wise for us to mind our ‘p’s and ‘q’s, as they say, because everyone will be aware if we stray from the straight and narrow.

Nonetheless, let it be said, for the record, that neither of us would trade this for the world…

Source of photo

Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

20 thoughts on “Our Broken Driveway (a.k.a. Life in a Small Town)”

  1. I also live in a small town and your meme gave me a hearty chuckle! So true! I love living in a small town! Everyone is friendly and says hello even if they don’t know you. I also am bad with names and I often have to ask my husband “do we know them?” The only time this bothered me was when my oldest son died. I was afraid to go out in public because I knew that everyone was aware of my family’s tragedy. Other than that, I also would not trade it for the world.

    P.S. we don’t have the driveway problem because it is the rare home which has a paved driveway. Most are gravel drives. So…pheeewwww!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree that it can be so hard leaving the house when something truly awful has happened…I was with a friend when this happened to her and it left me speechless and aghast… still haven’t found an appropriate comeback that is ‘small-town kind’ but firm… Glad your experiences have otherwise been so good. Hugs…❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oddly enough, I became popular when I moved to a small town. Of course, by that time (my senior year high school), I had moved heavily to the introvert side of the force. My father got me on the football team by hinting to the coach that I’d run track for him (miler). If you are on the football team in a small town in Texas, you are in like flint…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your stories! I can totally relate. If you are ever super bored, google Harlowton, Montana. I was an English teacher there. Let me clarify. I was THE English teacher there. When I opted to not renew my contract, almost a decade ago, and move to Oklahoma, I created a scandal that is probably still talked about.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We lived in 2 small towns, and 2 medium sized towns during my husband’s career. Unfortunately our experiences weren’t always great. After many years in small communities, I’m glad to be in a small city. We don’t have to travel for medical appointments, there’s more than one movie theatre, but you can still get from one side of the city to the other in 20 minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s too bad…🙁 I am sincerely sorry your experiences weren’t great…We are blessed to have better access to our doctor -and to specialists – than we ever did in the city and the one movie theatre – about 20 minutes away – is one more than we had access to in a French city with few (and currently NO) English movies. And movies are CHEAP here: Tuesday evenings cost 30$ for 2 tickets, 2 pops and 2 medium popcorn. Woohoo! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah…the charm of the small town. I am not sure if I would enjoy that lack of privacy…but looks like it has grown on you! Also want to let you know that I love your blog so much that I nominated you for the Three Day, Three Quotes challenge. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to seeing your quotes. Have a good night!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We moved to a tiny no-name town near Woodstock NY last year, after having been stuck taking care of a condo in a senior citizen community near the NJ Turnpike for a few years. While many of the folks there in the community were darling, there was no downtown or any variation in age groups, the pollution was really bad, and eventually my health kept me rather isolated. I had to sort of relearn relaxing and smiling at people when we got an office in downtown Woodstock, since people here are genuinely nice, and the tourists WANT it to be genuinely nice. I love that many of the visitors are of so many different races and ages, and many certainly 65+ in age but wearing hippie clothes, wearing their own old clothes, and wanting it all to be good. In a lot of ways it is too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I had to relearn some of the social niceties too!!! In the beginning, I was so used to not ‘seeing’ people; it was very strange meeting people’s eyes, saying hello and striking up a conversation. I found it quite exhausting at first, because I kept forgetting to look up 😊 I was also horrified at all the people honking their car horns until I realized they ONLY ever use their horns to say a friendly hello. Thanks so much for commenting, and for following my blog. Looking forward to following yours as well 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really does take time to (re)learn whatever society you move into. I lived in Vermont for a longlong time, and it was just different, much more open and friendly, then Noo Joisey, now Woodstock and environs. Woodstock itself is different than some of the boonie towns nearby, some of which can be rather redneck, so there are friendly open people here, and some that are more backwoods-defensive in their way. It takes time to learn the subtlties, I think.

        My blog is just really for my business, so I don’t update much, but thanks for checking it out.

        Liked by 1 person

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