I come from a small town. I like it that way.
My dad's parents moved here with him and my aunts when my dad was a toddler. Most of their relatives were still in Pennsylvania, except a couple of my grandma's siblings. They moved her mother up here a few years later, into the house that would later belong to my parents, where I was born. (Well, where I lived when I was born. I was born in a hospital.)
My mom's family, on the other hand, has lived in the same small nearby town for 150 years. That means that, in short, we are related to nearly everyone, somehow. And to some people, in more ways than one, what with brothers in one family marrying sisters in another, widows marrying their former brothers-in-law, things like that. A trip through the local Catholic cemetery is like looking through the pages of our family history book.
Growing up, as I went through school, I always rather enjoyed hearing my mom tell me that this one's dad is so-and-so, or she remembers when such-and-such's mother did this. As I grow older, I'm not quite at that stage, but can picture it, as my daughter will attend the same schools as I did. I realized at my class reunion last year that she will be attending kindergarten with the children of my former classmates, just as I did. And that I will probably tell her I was in orchestra with Michaela's dad, and that I never did get along with Mackenzie's mom.
I hope, though, that she knows her cousins better than I did. Our family reunion will accomplish that, if I am able to keep it going. The first time I met some of my cousins (well, since we all very small and too young to remember such things) was when we were in the same classes at school. And not distant cousins either, first cousins once removed ("second cousins" to common folk).
Growing up, going into the city was a big deal, and not necessarily fun. It was crowded, full of concrete, and scary. We didn't do it often, mostly for important business of a legal nature, or for an event of some sort - the auto show every year was a favorite. Don't get me wrong, we weren't hicks by any means. We just lived in a small town and had a small town mentality. We didn't need the hustle and bustle of the big city. We were happy to be where everybody knew everybody else, where the owner of the corner store knew what kind of ice cream you liked and made sure it was in stock, where the hairdresser knew how to cut your hair without asking, and where the owner of the bar would buy everyone a round just because.
Sometimes I wonder how it would have been if I had stayed in the city through college, instead of transferring to a school in a slightly-larger-than-mine-but-much-more-rural-than-the-city town. If I hadn't married a hometown boy, and gotten a job in the slightly larger town. Am I doing my daughter an injustice by continuing to live in a small town?
I don't think so. I think that I am allowing her easier access to her heritage, to things that are meaningful to me and hopefully will be to her as well. She walks along the same streets that I walked, goes to the same library, plays on the same playground. Her friends might turn out to be the children of my friends.
I'll give her a part of it, a path to take if she wants to, if she wants to follow in my footsteps for at least part of the path. I hope that she chooses to, and if not, that she at least looks over at from wherever she is once in awhile.