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Lessons Learned In A Small Town

This article first appeared in issue 34, and was written by Nancy Goff.

By Nancy Goff

I was born in the small Alabama community of Billingsley. It's one of those towns that has the "Welcome", and the "Come Back To See Us" sign on the same post. Just a one horse town, much like the community of Randolph where we live now. However, due to family circumstances we moved to the big city of Montgomery, Alabama when I was fifteen and there I remained until six years ago when I got the "middle age crazies" and moved to Kentucky to make a complete life change. I believe that we are, where we are, when we are supposed to be there. I didn't know at the time we moved here exactly why we were supposed to be here but six years later I think I have figured it out.

People who have lived all their lives in one place don't always appreciate where they come from. I've had many people here ask me why I would want to live in a place like this. Young people especially wanted to know why I moved here instead of living in a big town.

"There's nothing here" they would say.

I admit it was hard at first. People in small towns seem to be a little reluctant to welcome "outsiders". If they don't know your parents and grandparents, or at least know someone who knew them then it is harder to be accepted. I can remember going to the local supermarket week after week and having the same cashier look at me like I was an alien from another planet. However, I would just smile and say "How are you today?" She would coolly reply, "fine". This went on for some time but as months turned into years she finally came around and greeted me with the same smile and "How's everything today?" that she did with the locals.

We were almost ready to head back to Alabama when Gary was asked to play bass guitar in a country music band for a community dance. I accompanied him to the community center that night. What I saw there made me change my mind completely about leaving. There were people there of all ages from little children to senior citizens dancing. No one cared who they were dancing with because they were there to have fun. The crops were in the fields, the cows had been fed, the fences were mended, and the only thing that was important at that very moment was having fun and spending time with their family and friends. I knew I wanted to be a part of this place.

I'd been a hairstylist since I was twelve years old. When we first moved to Kentucky I didn't even tell people I was a stylist. When I decided I needed to figure out a way to become part of the community I knew what I had to do. Across the yard from our house was a small building which had once housed a shoe repair shop. I decided to fix it up, take the Kentucky State test for cosmetology, and open it as a beauty salon. It was a wise decision. I have made lots of friends here and I have a good business.

I love watching the beautiful sunrises out my kitchen window. I like taking walks in our apple orchard and smelling the sweet fragrance of the blossoms in spring. I look forward to seeing the daffodils easing their way out of the ground when the sun begins to warm the earth. I realize that here I live where God is all around me. I see Him every day in the roses that bloom in my yard, in the clouds that float lazily in the blue sky, in the brilliance of the changing leaves in the fall, and in each snowflake that falls covering the earth in the cold winter months.

God's plan will soon take us on another adventure. We will be leaving Kentucky, this town and it's people that I have come to love. However, now I understand why He directed us here. I believe God wanted us to remember the important things in life are the simple things. It is not money nor material things for those things can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. It is as the old cliche says, "taking time to smell the roses". We will always remember the lessons we have learned here and the hospitality you have shown us in this place where the best things in life are the simple pleasures and your neighbors know who you are, where you came from, and truly care about where you are going".

This story was posted on 2001-04-15 12:01:01
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