Growing up in a small town you might think that there would be a strong sense of community. No, not for me anyways. Especially in an environment like high school the social system created by a small town makes it more difficult to feel a sense of community than to not. While I may have known more than 75% of my graduating class I had a small group of friends that grew and shrank as high school progressed. The thing is, when everyone knows who everyone is then everyone also knows about you. Things that are true and not are spoken and not forgotten. There’s no chance to move on to new friends or a new beginning because there’s no one else to move on to, or the few that you can will also alienate you because it’s what everyone else is doing.
I guess you get a sense of community when you know most of the people around you AND their parents. However you can know the people around you and not feel welcomed, depleting any sense of community that had been established.
It’s not all bad though, because you may have grown up with the people around you there’s a chance they could be loyal to you through thick and thin. Not always, as I lost my “best-friend” in ninth grade to the black hole of judgement and exclusion based on assumptions and rumors. Then there are the few that you can always count on, and I’m not sure you can call three people a community, but when we get together it creates the illusion of community. I have three friends that I have been consistently close with since kindergarten, I even went to prom with one and had the greatest time. Perhaps it’s because they are guys that it is more difficult to suck them into the evil of the small town gossip mill.
In addition to my three loyal guys I’ve got my best friend who I found among the turmoil of high school. She’s seamlessly fit into my group and made it better to not be the only girl. However we’ve had other people join our group, but they come and go. Although I think we can count on keeping our most recent addition. Us four, now five, stay together and in that sense we’ve created our own community. In the middle of a small town where community seems to be a given, but in reality is actually earned and stolen faster than you can blink, I have found an even smaller better community.
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