Every day Max and I take a walk. Sometimes we walk 30 minutes, sometimes an hour, but we always take a morning walk around the block. First, we check the bushes of my parent’s house for the cat that seems to always be lurking there. Max would love to play, but kitty doesn’t want any of that! Then, we get the beagle family who live in an outdoor kennel next door going with their harmonized barking. Next, comes our visit with the chickens who really don’t pay much attention to us although we both wish they would. In our opinion, they are kind of stuck up! Following the snooty chickens, are 2 other dogs who go nuts running back and forth in their fence. Max pays them no mind since he realizes they can’t come play either.
Our final visit on our short square walk takes us to my favorite of our not very friendly animal neighbors. Big Little Dog runs out to us as if he were a bouncer at the toughest bar in town. Based on his bark and demeanor, one would think he weighed 100 pounds and could eat us. I think he truly believes that he CAN eat us and that we are scared of him. Initially, Max wagged his tail and tried to be Big Little Dog’s friend; however, BLD was having none of it. HE is the protector of this corner of the block and is NOT afraid to let anyone know. He doesn’t seem to realize that Max could probably bite his head off, and I might be able to just take one step and squash him since I have pretty big feet! After the first couple of rebuffs of his offer of friendship, Max now ignores Big Little Dog and marks a spot on the edge of the yard just to irritate BLD. In Max’s world, other dogs are supposed to play; that’s what they do at doggie daycare and in dog parks.
My other small town experiences so far have included a Sunday church service where I was warmly greeted and made to feel special by some people I haven’t seen in many years. Despite their small number, this group is mighty in their faith, and it was nice to soak that in while also being covered with pleasant memories. It just so happened that the lesson was from Philippians 4 which reminded me of what I have always believed in so very strongly: Don’t worry, have faith, and fill your mind with good and positive things. A happy coincidence or a message directly for me? I’ll take it no matter which one it was.
I’ve also learned in my first week back in a small town that I can’t just drop a couple of packages off at a UPS pick up spot because THERE ISN’T ONE! Silly me! What was I thinking!?! AND the Post Office closes from 1-2 for lunch!
Guess what else I’ve learned, or should I say been reminded?? People try to help each other out, and a lot of times that involves really great food!!! Now, I just moved from the 4th largest city in the United States, and I learned that people there help each other out too, so this definitely isn’t just a small town thing. But, it is a very comforting feeling when a meal home cooked by someone that you have known and loved your entire life shows up at your door or is yours to pick up!
I’m still feeling my way around; I have good hours, awful hours, okay days, and bad days. Things that should matter to me or used to matter to me–don’t. Or they do for a little while, and then all of a sudden, I don’t care. Sometimes when people are talking, I just tune out. It’s like I’m hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice, “Wah, Wah-Wah, Wah, Wah.” Sometimes, I just want to cry or run away or scream, “SHUT UP!” That sounds so mean, and so unlike me, but it’s just what pops into my head sometimes. Thankfully, I’ve told my students enough times that they can say whatever they want in their mind, but they need to learn self control and keep it from coming out of their mouth, and I’ve been able to follow my own advice so far! It is also why I still need to be alone with my dog, cat, and music a lot.
I am searching (and most likely will be for a while) for my own space, my own home, a place in my world that has changed so much. I am still quite lost, but as John Mellencamp said so well way back when I was still in high school in this same small town that is my current home,
“No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be.”