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Small Town Kids & The People They Become

I'm often asked where I'm from, and my answer is always the same, "I'm from a small town you've never heart of".
I’m often asked where I’m from, and my answer is always the same, “I’m from a small town you’ve never heart of”.

Before you read this post, I want to issue a tiny little challenge; List four or five things that haven’t changed about your personality since you were a kid.

If you’ve had enough challenge mumbo-jumbo in your life, just ignore that and carry on reading.

This afternoon I was reminiscing, with a nostalgia spurred on by a copy of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Avonlea. It was on the bedside table of the guest bed where I spent the weekend.

You see, I was the world’s biggest Anne of Green Gables fan when I was a kid. I lost myself in her novels, away from the dysfunction of small-town family life.

“Wow,” I though to myself, “I haven’t really changed so much from the little girl I used to be”.

The professional, educated, independent woman I am now has worked hard to come out of that small-town shell. I’ve had to work hard to girder my heart and bolster some self-confidence. But the average Josephine wouldn’t know that. They just know me now.

So I made a mental list. Yep, I made a list of all the things that aren’t so different about me even though life has proven to be a maze of steep ups and downs.

1) I’m still terrified of snakes.

2) Obnoxious people still make me turn inward and cringe.

3) I remain a quiet observer with a mind that works overtime processing the power dynamic and motivation behind what people do and say.

4) If I say I’m going to do something, I do it.  I still judge people who don’t do that very harshly.

5) When it comes to matters of the heart, I’m a hopeless romantic.

6) I believe that people are good until they prove me wrong, and then they’ve lost my respect f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

7) Pigtails are the most ludicrous thing to do with a little girl’s hair, or an adult woman’s hair for that matter.

8) Storytelling is an art that brings magic to our lives.

9) I still love long, hot, baths and singing at the top of my lungs while I’m enjoying them.

10) The best sleep I get happens between fresh sheets that have been hung on a clothesline to dry.

11) I’m most happy near, or on the water.

12) Finally and most importantly, I’m still a daydreamer. I still hope that we can change the world, one small act of kindness at a time.

Today as I was driving in the first above zero temperatures we’ve had since December, I got to some of that daydreaming I’m famous for. I was lost in thought about an old school chum of mine.

When you grow up in a small town, there are very few changes to your peer group. Most of the kids who started kindergarten with me were the ones that I graduated with thirteen years later. Very early in our lives we became part of an established pecking-order, and the only way you could change that was to leave and become anonymous so you could become who you really were.

schoolyardI’m not sure why, but I was reminiscing about springtime in the school yard, and my mind wandered to a day on the school playground. I remembered how boy #1 (now fighting cancer) swung the bat and hit boy #2 in the temple, splitting open his flesh and leaving him with a scar.

For some reason, with the sun streaming through the windshield, I wondered if he still had that scar, and I thought that even though we grew up together until we were all old enough to leave, we really didn’t know one another at all.

You see, most of the scars left with small-town kids don’t leave a mark on their face, but leave the shrapnel of becoming, deep down in their heart, where no one can see it, but they stumble over  it years later.

I was a shy, nervous child, always ready to run or cry. As a teenager I was loud and over-confident. These days, I rarely cry, and on the inside I don’t need to remind myself so often of just how far I’ve come since the scars were left where no one could see them.

In the warm Canadian spring sunshine today, I thought of you, and hoped that you became the man you always hoped you’d be.


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