Now I live in another city, but it's a lot smaller. Here I can leave my neighborhood and still run into people I know. The more schools I have taught in, the more my chances are of seeing people I know in most grocery stores. I can no longer just run to the grocery store in my pajamas, I mean, my sweats and a baseball cap. Ahem.
Stein grew up in a small town. So small that most people know everyone's business. You say our last name, and immediately people start asking who you know, Stein, or his siblings or his parents? Or the niece and nephews?
Friday night we went to see our two nephews play football. High school football is a world of its own. I never really got into it while I was in high school, partially because I went to an all-girls school, and partially because my guy friends didn't play football. I never experienced the "Friday Night Lights" of it all: bleachers, bands, cheerleaders, kids strolling the bleachers, kids hanging out. The game was good (they won!), but the people watching was even better. It was Homecoming, so there was a parade of girls throughout the game strutting their dresses and tiaras through the bleachers. In addition to that, there was the usual groups of people who know Stein, know his siblings, and know his parents.
On Saturday, friends of ours had an Oktoberfest party. Of course we knew most of the people at the party since Stein grew up with most of them, and also the hosts were the local veterinarians. At one point a local accident that happened earlier that day was being discussed. The person who was hurt in the accident had to be flown to the hospital by helicopter. When the question was asked whether or not the person had survived, our friend who is the local funeral director said, "I don't know, but I didn't get a call." It was at that point, combined with the football game on Friday, that I felt that small town feeling. The city-girl in me thought it was time to get back to our semi-anonymous city.