Laurie and I are in Subway – the brand-spanking new Subway up the road in the next county at the nearly-as-new- Walmart. We are having our subs and just hanging out before shopping at the only retailer within 30 miles that sells vacuum cleaner bags for my elderly neighbor. And it feels like I’m eating lunch with Kim Kardashian (except for the extraneous cleavage.) Everyone other person who walks into this place knows Laurie. She waves, says “Hi,” and keeps right up with our conversation. She grew up here; her family is from her; she is of this place.
I’m just beginning to get a bit disillusioned by all of this when a guy in his late 20s walks by our window and waves. “I haven’t seen that kid since high school,” I say. Yep, I am also of this place.
The old adage is that in a small town “everyone knows your business,” and I’m not here to dispel that adage. I couldn’t if I wanted to because it’s mostly true. How could it not be when the people who run the grocery store are also the people whose children took piano from your mom and whose you wave to every day as you drive by them on their daily walking regimen. Nope, everyone here knows your business.
But in many ways, this is amazing, especially since I am a writer. First, I have endless things to write about. The stories I know – like the one about the coach at the high school whose employment wasn’t fully terminated when he hit a baseball off a kid’s head (okay, so he hit the kid in the head? What’s the big deal, right?) – could fill books. In fact, my friend Laurie of The Details Company have started a weekly Facebook write-up about our ONLY local coffee place, Cuppa Joe; The Cuppa Joe Chronicles comes out every week, and believe me when I say, it’s been a Facebook sensation with The Monticello Misfitz, a group of older ladies who were featured in our first issue. This is a place of stories.
Perhaps, though, the best part of being a writer in a small town is that people keep me honest. Every Sunday at church someone asks me how the book is going, and they honestly want to know the answer. At dinner with new friends on Saturday night, they plied me with questions about the book they had heard about and we talked for so long that new confidence sprung forth in me. Most mornings, Dad and I have time – because we work where we live (he manages the farm) – to talk about his work and mine, and most days, I walk away from those talks more sure of what I’m doing and also much more caffeinated. This is a place of accountability and inspiration.
Here, everybody knows your business; it’s true, and I can’t imagine writing in any other place.
Our very own Cuppa Joe