Squawk Radio

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Liz on Small Towns

I know, I know, when you think of Blaze, you don’t exactly think “Small towns.” Even so, my new Blaze, MY ONLY VICE takes place in a small (and quite fictional) Massachusetts town. In it, Sam Maguire, local police chief and former Boston vice cop, thinks local florist Rosie Bliss might be selling something besides flowers to the kids at the local college. So he figures he should probably take a closer look at her. And although Rosie is indeed selling something besides flowers to the kids at the local college, she doesn’t mind Sam’s closer look at all. In fact, the closer he looks, the more she likes it. Add to this a campus security head who’s more than a little Barney Fife, and sprinkle liberally with assorted colorful townsfolk, and, it goes without saying, zany antics ensue.

I love writing about small towns. Probably because I didn’t grow up in one myself. I love how, in small towns, the six degrees of separation are reduced to, at most, two. I love how everyone, regardless of their differences, can put those differences aside when the community is threatened. I love how everyone shares a common history, and they all seem to know that history really well. I love it that there are so many “characters” in small towns, because so many people in small towns are unmuddied by outside influences. I love how time seems to slow--and sometimes even move backward--the minute you enter a small town. And I love it that, where it seems like there should be no secrets in a small town, sometimes the secrets kept are HUGE.

I live in a small town now, but it’s not like the ones I write about. We don’t have a quaint town square bordered by quirky shops and cafes. In fact, we have only one retail establishment and one restaurant. Unless you count the lunch counter at the general store (yes, that’s the one retail establishment), in which case, I suppose we have two restaurants. Still, the bigger one floats on the river, which I guess is kind of quirky.

But there’s A LOT of new development going on out here, turning us into more of a bedroom community of Louisville than a small town. We have a stoplight now, and they’re building a second water tower. They’ve opened a second elementary school since we moved out here, and we have a high school now. They’re clearing fields for new developments, and they doubled the size of the firehouse. I can’t say they’re welcome changes, though, to be honest.

There are still several horse farms, however, which I can’t imagine going anywhere. And I can’t see the general store becoming a Circle K any time soon. The 300+ acres of woods behind our house are protected for the next 100+ years, so the wildlife will still have a home for a while. That’s all good to know.

Our plan when we moved out here was to stay for nine years, while our son attended the school we chose for him (K-8th grade), then we intended to move back to a more urban neighborhood, like the one we left, so he could attend the high school he’ll attend downtown. That move will come in about a year and a half. I think, by then, it will be time. I’ll miss the horses and the woods and the general store and the floating restaurant. But I won’t miss the backhoes and the dump trucks and the piles of dead trees. Small town living has been nice, while it lasted. But like so many things in life, it’s changed.

So how about you? What’s your idea of the ideal place to live? If money and career location were no object, where in the world would you live? What kind of home would you have? Why would you choose that sort of home?

Elizabeth Bevarly, 8:01 AM