The town that built me

Coming into work today, someone had apple pie and coffee. The smell filled the room and I was suddenly back in a small community hall in a small town in the middle of no where.

Everything happened in that hall. From town meetings to Sunday brunches to high school graduations, everyone was raised in that hall.

As kids, we knew every good hiding space from the coat room in the entrance way to the eerie storage area behind the stairs.

Within seconds of smelling pie and coffee, I was teleported home to a dozen fall suppers where everyone from town pitched in to help and the line for food stretched around the room, up the stairs and along the side of the dance floor.

I was suddenly attending a hundred funeral luncheons for people who knew every member of my family dating back to my great grandparents. Every wedding that ever took place flashed through my mind, from cousins to friends. I can see a dozen bouquets tossed from that stage, thousands of songs danced on that floor.

I tried to explain this to a coworker and I got a blank stare and a shrug but maybe I don’t blame them. How do you explain the place that made you who you are? How do you explain talking over pancakes as you moved from table to table for a million and one conversations with neighbours? How do you explain knowing everyone within a two hundred mile radius? Learning to help your community by serving coffee or doing dishes for a couple hundred people once a month? Taking pride in a small but beautiful place by being there to help with everything from helping an older friend clear away the dishes to sweeping up the floor after everyone left.

Out of a graduating class of seven; one person still works in town, one of them moved to the next town over, another three are still living in the province, and the last two of us have moved to other provinces. Surrounding grades have similar stats of young people moving away to build lives else where.

What will become of the community that shaped who I am? Will I find a place where my kids can have the same sense of belonging?

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