I come from a small town in Sussex. The kind of small town where everyone knows everyone and people rarely leave. It has cobbled streets, independent boutiques and the Lion’s May Fayre is the only social event to be seen at over the May Bank Holiday weekend.
I’ve lived there since I was one, and don’t get me wrong – I do love visiting from university. I honestly do. This however doesn’t mean I am not completely terrified about moving home in a few months.
Nothing changes, which is both comforting and creepy. The same people work in the same shops and go about their days in exactly the same way they always have done. It’s a little bit like walking into a time bubble, where the outside world is almost irrelevant and the front page of the paper always revolves around potholes or the lack of parking spaces.
There are a few problems with small towns. The first being everyone knows too much. Anonymity is flung far out the window and you can be sure the stupid things you did as a naïve fourteen year old will come back to bite you in the bum at twenty. It’s near enough impossible to walk down the high street without running into at least three people you know and you of course have to stop and ask how their children / grandchildren / geraniums are doing . Small town etiquette you see.
Small towns have a habit of ensnaring you and never letting go. There are families I know who have lived in the same street for three generations. Children attend the same school their parents did, work in the same local businesses then marry locally and the cycle repeats. How adventurous.
I know this sounds like a deeply scathing rant but it’s not. Okay it kind of is but that’s not my intention. I’m actually jealous of these people.
I’m jealous of people who can be perfectly content with that lifestyle. I know some of my classmates from school have gone down that path. They’ve paired off, shacked up and are expecting sprog number two. I see them at the pub sometimes and I struggle to believe we once had anything in common. I feel sad because they’ve never done anything outside of that small community. Clichés aside, we live in a big wide world and there are so many wonderful things to do and see. I find it hard to comprehend how people can not want to do and see at least one wonderful, crazy, exotic thing.
I travelled before university and it was the single greatest adventure I’ve ever had. I’m not saying everyone needs to grab backpack through Australia (cue Gap Yah joke) but seeing something outside of your own county is an excellent start.
I guess I just want more. I wish I could be happy with this simple small town lifestyle but alas, I cannot. It would be easier if I could but I’ve seen I simply want more. I want to see more, do more, be more. Controversial I know.
I’m planning to be at home no more than a couple of years, then this small town girl will move to the big bad city. Obviously after fending off numerous fabulous job offers that come with company car and lush apartment. Obviously.
I love my hometown, I do. I’m just terrified it will draw me in and this time next year I’ll be part of a knitting club or offering to organise a bake sale. If you don’t hear from me, please send help.