Living in one place for many years, a small southern town in particular, can have drawbacks that have been featured for years at the heart of many classic novels and short stories: racism, small-mindedness, constricting bonds of family, responsibility, loyalties, friendships, reputations established and lost. For someone who leaves – who escapes these ties – one may only see the negatives small town ties present. If, rather than pack up and leave, one remains, the investment begins to pay dividends. Gradually, the constancy provides the rewards of community – what was entangling and demanding becomes empowering and supporting.
When I was a graduate student of little means, I used to say Gainesville Will Provide. If I needed something – bookshelves, lamps, pots and pans, what-have you, more often that not I could find it at a thrift store, garage sale, or, often, even waiting on the curb just for me to pick up. A gift from the town. Recently, I got this cool chair:
A few days later on a walk in my neighborhood I found some hardwood discarded kitchen cabinets just when I needed some nesting boxes for my growing flock of chickens (complete with undermount lighting).
One day not long ago a friend called to tell me about an entire chicken coop on the curb! My husband enlisted a friend, picked it up and brought it home for me the next day – my actual birthday. Thanks for the gift, town!
With a little additional investment, it looks a bit better (fence under construction):
More dramatically, our community ties gave us the opportunity to invest in a new house. A little yellow house full of memories and love that we can restore and rent to others who may go on to establish themselves in this community.