small town charm

I think the first thing you ever told me is that my hometown was ugly. We hadn't met yet, and it was the way you said it--that tone of genuine surprise, that bright smile--that made me think you were just fascinating. I drank too much and you stayed up with me, telling me stories about a life that seemed so much richer than life in this ugly little town. We walked through the empty streets that night and I said something like "it's beautiful here at night," offhand. I don't remember much else that happened that night, but I remember that clearly.

When I finally moved to the city we kept running into each other. We talked about small towns, and about how glad we were to be rid of them forever. You had changed and so had I, but your smile was still the same, and I still found myself fascinated by your words. It was probably a year before we actually started dating. We just sort of happened. You liked saying that. Like the universe, we were a series of impossible events that became something amazing.

Then it was several years on and we were older and no longer as enamored with the city as we were before. It was full of fleeting contacts and superficial connections, and nothing makes you feel isolated like being in a crowd of people and realizing none of them care in the slightest that you exist. So you used words like 'jaded' and 'ennui' and complained about that isolation. Some days I felt like our joie de vivre would never return. Some days I tried to recover it. And you smiled at my efforts, and that almost made it all worthwhile.

One of us--or maybe both of us--came up with the idea to take a trip across the country, stopping in all the small towns along the way, eating in their diners, drinking their coffee. And I thought of the day we met and you told me the small town I lived in was ugly, and here we were romanticizing these little towns, these places that people like you and me try so hard to get away from.

The towns we visited were quiet, peaceful, free of our city affectations, with so many more stars in the sky. And so long as we kept moving we left our troubles behind us, gathering stories as we went. Everyone we met was polite, curious, friendly, and we never stayed long enough to learn any other side to them. And you told me you thought it was refreshing, meeting so many friendly people from so many places, how connected this trip made you feel with the world. And I told you that I'd never felt more alone, but that sometimes a little loneliness is all you need to put things in perspective.

After the trip, we fell apart much like we fell together. I left the city, found a quiet place in a quiet town and lived there, and maybe I was even happy. I made no meaningful connections here, but I made a lot less meaningless ones. I'm hiding, I know, but I don't see what choice I have. Please don't come and find me.


Anonymous said...

i think i'm in love with you. lol.

Rob said...

this is perfectly normal.