Location: Oregon, United States

Sunday, October 12, 2008

That Small Town Feel

Lately I've been noticing how the community we live in has a real small-town feel to it. The structures in the downtown area have sort of a Mayberry feel to them. There is a drug store/soda fountain, a classic old courthouse with gigantic cedars, an old stone church building which is now a center for the Arts, and an old theatre which was recently renovated. There are also newer buildings and businesses (yes, there is a Starbucks and a McDonald's within walking distance). But it's not just the setting, it's the people.

I spend a lot of time in the downtown area. My job is there, I visit people in jail or go to court to support my clients, I volunteer with youth every week, my kids play games at the local gaming store, there are good restaurants and cafes, our doctor's offices are there, and I go to the Saturday Farmers Market whenever I can. So I know the coffee guy at one place because he volunteers at the same place I do and works his "real job" next door to my office. And the woman who sells Haralson apples at the Farmer's Market lives a stone's throw from the grocery store. And the people who took over the gaming store let me write a check when they first opened because they recognized me as a regular. There is a drink at the soda fountain named for one of the youth I work with.

Living and working in the same community presents certain challenges that I hadn't had to think about before. I see my clients everywhere. At the grocery store, at my church, at the library, when I'm having coffee with a friend or dropping my kids off somewhere. I go to the same clinic as two of my clients. I drive along the road and see homeless people I know nearly every time I'm out. This means I need to make a conscious effort to "unplug", not stopping to talk to people I know and care about or haven't seen in some time, leaving it for the guy who is doing the Outreach job now. It means sitting away from the window so I won't be seen when I'm off the clock. It means my life is not as private as I would sometimes prefer it to be.

But it also means I'm CONNECTED, and there is something very cool about that. I know the people that are raising my vegetables and fruit, fixing my broken jewelry, sharpening my knives, making my coffee, baking my bread, hosting my children. It is good. It is home.


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