When people find out I moved from Southern California to a small town in Missouri, they seem surprised that anyone would want to do that. And then they start to look amused and ask how my transition is going. They know that I am a fish out of water, a stranger in a strange land, and am sure to be a source of silly entertainment as I learn to navigate this new world.
And, they are right. I’ve done some silly things. And, I’m learning a lot.
My new life in this small southern town is not better or worse, it’s just different. Here are some of the things I have noticed:
There are no lines – not at the post office, the grocery store, city office, or restaurants. I can’t seem to find one anywhere.
Speed limits are really, really slow – I thought I would have trouble keeping to the 20 to 35 mph speed limits in town until I realized there are so many stop signs that you never get up to speed anyway. A few days ago I was with someone who got pulled over for going 33 mph. That would never happen in CA.
The crime rate is low – most of the posts on the police department Facebook page are about pets that have been found.
My weather app is my new best friend – you never know what the day will bring. I now check the weather every day and have alerts set for severe thunder storms and tornadoes.
If I don’t go to the high school football game, I can hear the play by play at my house – in small towns you always live near the high school.
But, I enjoy going to high school football games – mostly because I am with my family, but the rest is fun too.
It’s hard for a vegetarian to eat out – I always say I can eat anywhere, even in a town where biscuits and gravy with eggs and bacon are considered a healthy breakfast. What I have discovered though is that they cook everything on the same grill, so when I order pancakes they taste like bacon. I doubt there is much sensitivity toward vegetarians here.
Shopping and errands require strategic planning – the local city with “regular” stores is about a half hour away so I usually only go once a week. I still haven’t quite figured out how to plan these trips well and make them efficient.
My yard is full of wild life (and bugs) – birds, rabbits, and squirrels are a part of my everyday life now and at night I get to listen to cicadas and watch lightening bugs flash across the lawn. My cats love watching out the windows, especially the antics of Seymour, the squirrel that lives in my front yard tree.
Mosquitoes love CA blood – it must be a delicacy around here.
The trash men will pick up anything – you just set it out by the street and it’s gone. Maybe only my CA readers will understand how strange this seems.
There is a wide variety of accepted forms of transportation – it is not unusual to see people riding down the street in golf carts or on lawn mowers.
Customer service is a priority – everyone seems eager to help. I think I disappointed (or maybe insulted) someone the other day when I insisted I could carry my own bag of groceries out.
People are friendly – almost everyone says “hi” and I feel very welcome, but deep down I think they are just watching me carefully to see how I am going to do and if I will stick around.
And, that is okay. Because I WILL learn, adapt, and stick around, I also know that I have a lot to offer and will be able to serve this community in some way. I just haven’t figured out how I want to do that yet.
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