Saturday, July 12, 2008


Small town living:

- I run into the massage therapist unexpectedly in the health food café and we exchange a bear hug.
- The owner of the Aladdin’s cave of a hardware shop greets me by name and when I request some heavy duty adhesive for a very small job, goes out the back and for a couple of pennies slips me half a tube of Supaglue that he had left over from some work he had done on his own account.
- The bus driver who tells me to take care, love, and mind how you go as I get off at my stop.

Initially I was thrown by the absence of anonymity. Not what I was used to at all after London or Paris. Being visible, recognised, felt threatening.

Now I welcome it.


Impossible to describe the shifting landscape, the promises that haven't thus far materialised but which feel so very imminent, the hopes that can't be dwelt on for long because they might vanish under scrutiny. Work. Love. Can I remember that both require strong boots, not glass slippers? Hold steady when the sirens start their song and the ropes with which I’ve tied myself to the mast as a protection from illusion prove to be as fragile as - secretly - I knew they were all along?


….. there is such complexity in us and so many layers to the human heart that we rarely ever encounter ourselves.

Anam Cara
John O’Donohue


Zhoen said...

That kind of visibility requires a different kind of attentiveness than street smarts does. Lovely when it's good, far more toxic when it's gone bad. Still, I think I could get used to it if ever I find it.

herhimnbryn said...

I understand that visibility now, living in this small town. Being from the UK and somewhat reserved, I found it quite frankly, odd. But now I relish it and initiate it too.

You know mm, those boots may have to be tough, but there's nowt to say they can't be cherry red:)

Dale said...


leslee said...

I've had to adjust to living in the same town in which I work, running into work colleagues (and occasionally bosses) in places like the grocery store, all disheveled and not in my professional mode. It was disconcerting.

It sounds like you're adjusting to your new small-town life, and it must suit you. Complexity, indeed. Life has such a way of surprising and befuddling.

Sky said...

i had never lived in a small town until moving to our suburban seattle city, but i don't feel visible here. i don't know anyone in this small city (and only a few in washington) so i feel anonymous, something i rather enjoyed upon arriving here. i can look any way i want and no one i know will see me. yet, i do miss the opportunity i had in my larger atlanta neighborhood of running into a friendly face, disheveled or not. how nice to have small favors done just because you are a familiar local!

love requires strong boots and bare toes. the bare toes have more fun and feel more texture! bless our complex hearts!

Anonymous said...

You reminded me of the bus driver who used to drive us from the village to our house after school. He called the four of us girls the "four brownies" because we all wore brown school uniforms. I used to stand beside him, hanging onto stair rail, and talk to him about his family and what it was like being a bus driver and whatever else we landed on. Once my baby sister forgot to get off the big bus when she was supposed to, and ended up way out in the country, and the bus driver (a different one, who didn't know her, but who was at the end of his shift) drove her all the way home. I can't imagine that happening here in the U.S. It's a kind of small-town generosity that permeates the culture of Ireland -- or used to. Dunno about today, with the Celtic Tiger a leaping.

mm said...

Zhoen: It seems to be working for me ...

Hhb: Cherry red. Nice.

Leslee: Surprised and befuddled sums it up quite well!

Sky: "Strong boots and bare toes". I wish I'd thought of that. Exactly.

Tky: I have this lovely mental picture of you talking to the bus driver in your brown uniform. From my last visit to the Republic (as opposed to the North) a few years back I have memories of much sociability and friendliness.