There have been some interesting times of adjustment throughout the last two years of living in our small town, but last night cemented my longing to be here…to be part of this farming / logging community. It all came in the form of the opening high school football game. This was our first game….this was our first experience of how an entire community…town…rallies around, and is united by their sports teams. As I looked around at the crowd and witnessed the long-standing friendships, the commitment to this high school football team, the Cheer Team, the families, the younger kids running around behind the back of the end-zone waiting for their chance to someday be on that field…in that uniform, the mere fact that 90% of everyone at the game was wearing a shirt showing their pride in this team; I realized something my experience thus far had lacked. There was richness here, in this small community in a different way than what I have known.
In the Bay Area, the illusion of financial richness for everyone is all around you, but the feeling of community within the city we lived suffered a great deal. There was division around financial status, the neighborhood you lived in, and whether they want to admit it or not…race. The difference came for us by being part of our Christian church family, and the small population within the Little League / Bobby Sox Softball organizations. This is where we found community among the diversity that the Bay Area holds.
Public high school football games, and other youth sporting events were something that happened in the community, but in most cases, didn’t draw the community’s attention. Participation was generally based on individuals having a variant that was directly related to that particular sport. In fact, anytime one of our district’s high schools petitioned to let students (Heaven forbid) park their cars on the streets surrounding the high school, install lights, or improve the fields, they were met with multiple city counsel meetings, and threats of lawsuits to hash out the opposition that the schools own direct neighborhood harbored. Not all, but many of these members of the community even though they had bought their homes next to the high schools, or community sports fields…felt inconvenienced and threatened at the thought that campus life even existed. “What…you mean there is going to be traffic, and people parking on the street outside of my home because there is some sort of school event going on? Come on, City Counsel…tell them that they can’t do this!!” Unfortunately, these circumstances were where you found most of the community’s involvement when it came to the local sports teams. In contrast, the community richness that I witnessed last night in my small town was amazing, and was greatly missing in the place I am from. After 22 years of living in the same city of California, I cannot say if there was anything that truly united that community.
So I have to ask myself…am I becoming small town, or in my heart have I always been?? Are the chickens, the wildlife, the frogs in the pond, the quaint downtown, the lack of well known restaurants, the 40 minute drive to the nearest Target Store, and the time I arrived late to an appointment because I got behind a 20 mph hay baler driving down the two-lane-no-passing road starting to replace the fast-paced, convenience of the city? My love for our property has been present from the first time I laid eyes on it. My love for our small town was imprinted on my heart and mind last night. I may be running on emotions right now, but I have to look and know that the game, the town’s rallying around the team, the complete silence during the band’s playing of the National Anthem…there is so much that my little slice of Oregon offers beyond what I have seen with my eyes. Perfect, no….incredibly ‘Bedford Falls” like…yes (well, and no – but that’s another story..hahaha!)
The noise was actually deafening!