After staying up late last night, enjoying every last minute of my birthday bash, I am wide awake at 11:40pm on a Sunday night. And so, as with most nights when I can’t sleep, my mind is busy. I’ve been thinking about Donna and John’s plans of possibly moving to South Dakota for a while. I have this love/hate relationship with the idea of moving back there.
There’s something really good about knowing the people you live around, and having everyone be interested in your life, but there’s also an oppressive side to that. It seems that it can shift quickly too from neighborly interest to nosy busybodies just wanting to keep an eye on your comings and goings.
Kathleen Norris seems to have a lot of wisdom on small towns, so I picked up “Dakota” again, a book I’ve probably read 7 or 8 times through. Here’s a passage I stumbled on, that seemed apt, and able to put into words what I can’t:
“But hospitality to the stranger does not necessarily translate into greater love for the people you live with every day, and the small town of both the heartland and the monastery are often stereotyped as either paradise on earth or backwaters full of provincial and self-righteous hypocrites. The truth, as is so often the case, lies somewhere in between.
I have observed that in the small town, the need to get along favors the passive aggressive, those for whom honest differences and disagreements pose such a threat that they are quickly submerged, left to fester in a complex web of resentments. This is why, whem the tempests erupt in the small-town teapot, they are so violently desctructive. This is why, when the comfortable fiction that we’re all the same under the skin, is exposed as a lie, those who are genuinely different so often feel ostracized and eventually leave.”