About 9 months ago I moved back home after being away at university, at it has definitely been an experience. Whilst the city that I lived in at university wasn’t a particularly big city, it was still a great deal bigger than the town I’ve moved back to. That change in scale has definitely been a shock to the system.
Whilst at university I had quite a few friends and acquaintances in several different areas, and whilst in each of these individual circles everyone knew everyone else, there was usually very little overlap between each circle. I’d go to work and if I even moved to a different area I wouldn’t see the same customers, and I’d certainly never see them outside of work.
These days I’m learning to know most of my regular customers by face, if not by name, and even if I go to a different store some customers recognise me from my usual store. I recognise the faces, and sometimes names of the regular members of staff at all the local stores that I frequent often.
Everyone I know also seems to know someone else that I know from somewhere else. It’s like the connections between people have suddenly got a lot shorter. Some of those connections seem to become ever more obscure as well. Someone I’ve met on a night out went to college with one of my co-workers, one of the girls that works at my local coffee shop is a helper at one of the cub groups I volunteer at.
It certainly doesn’t help that a lot of the people within my current circles have known me since I was a baby, and whilst sometimes it’s quite nice to have that sense of familiarity, it’s also a little weird to know that some of those people remember me far longer than I remember them. They’ve known me since I was sat eating crayons in a high chair and being bathed in the big metal sinks on scout camp.
The first time a lot of those people saw me drinking alcohol, they insisted that I was too young, that surely I wasn’t old enough to drink yet. When I actually got my ID out to prove to them that I was indeed 20, and definitely legally old enough to drink they responded with a “man, that makes me feel seriously old.” Then again, that’s exactly how I feel when I see kids that I’m sure were only tiny when I left now becoming teenagers.
Small town life is definitely an experience. It’s a life that suits some people, and that’s absolutely fine. But for me? That kind of life, whilst it’s pleasant, makes me feel a little bit stifled right now. I want to see the world. Explore and move on. Revel in my anonymity. Be able to reinvent myself in every new city I see. To grow and change, to make mistakes, bad decisions, and completely screw up, without people that I have to see everyday being there to witness it. I want to be young and free and reckless. I want to fly.