There's a lot to be said for the people living in small towns.
It has taken until midlife for me to fully appreciate how fortunate I've been to grow up and remain in a small town where so many people know each other, know a friend of a friend, know my history and lots of my fun stories from the past, and know my face.
Having begun dating my husband in middle school and now married 29 years, I am not unusual in my small town. Most of our friends have dated nearly as long and have been married even longer. It's commonplace.
There's a sense of acceptance, community, and a deep stability to people who stay in their small towns. So many of these people I know in my town are "family folks" talking highly of their family's traditions and their upbringing - the good and the bad with equal acceptance of what is.
When I sit around friends' dinner tables, sharing a home cooked meal, a green salad, a baked dessert and listen to the conversation, I can't help but feel grateful and in admiration of these hard working, good souls.
They're no nonsense.
They work and raise children with an honest depth of character. They plan family meals; they budget and scrimp pennies. We talk about where to get good deals, the signs of spring and fall with each new season, about our kids, our parents, our successes, and our failures.
I raise a toast to all my neighbors and friends in my small town. You make my life rich with your presence, your conversation, your friendship. You make me proud of where I'm from and so proud to be associated with you.
I was asked -- if I had six months to live, where would I go?
I'm grateful to say, I'd stay right where I am, and live out my life where I have indeed lived.