Amanda Cooper / Woodford County
There once was a city so small, it convinced itself it was big. Its antique brick buildings puffed themselves up, decked themselves in murals and strings of lights, and their inhabitants swooned at the sight. To them at least, warm country charm was more important than any skyscraper could ever hope to be.
If you have never been to one, dear reader, everything in a small city is charming. People waving everywhere you go is charming. Christmas lights in October are charming. Strangers knowing your life's history (because they know your grandmother) is charming. Everything in a small city has character, and the people around you are characters. You’ll see the same people in the same places at the same times, every day, and if you don’t know their names you’ll make them up.
“There goes sign guy,” you say as you drive past the man you see every morning with a different political sign. “There goes coffee girl,” you say every afternoon, as you see a woman walking back to the courthouse with a tray full of drinks from the corner drugstore. If you do not live in a small city this may seem strange, but you must understand that, in these places, there are so few stories to tell-- that the few we have to tell unravel so quickly-- that more often than not we must create our own.
For you see, small cities are frozen in time, mere shadows of the waking world. They live in the past, when they were created (small cities are almost always old. Antique. This is part of what makes them charming). And because small cities are so microscopically small, they fear what is big. Because their inhabitants live in the warmth and safety and charm of the past, they fear the future. They fear change. This is why they are frozen. And this is why there are two kinds of people in every small city: those who wish to stay, and those who wish to leave. Those who wish to stay recognize that they are small, that their lives will be as commonplace and still and charming as the city around them, and are content. Those who wish to leave long for the bigness of the world outside the shadows, the blinding light of what is real and new. They wish to move. Forward.