Last night I had the pleasure of performing with the Pamlico Community Band.
I sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. It was fun, and I'm so glad they asked me to do it. The song is set extremely low for a soprano (singers, I had to do a G-flat below middle C), and I'm not used to being accompanied by a 50-piece band, but it went well.
But Oriental (and Pamlico County) is a small intimate place.
I was struck last night by the people around me. The place was packed, with standing room in the back. I'd guess that I knew about 75% of them, just to look at their faces -- people I see regularly at the local grocery, or at the farmers' market, or the Bean, or at other local events, or church gatherings, or just walking or biking around town. Quite a few, of course, were personal friends. But all the dozens of others are that rare group these days: neighbors.
I live in a place where neighbors know each other. Not by name. Not by which house we own. We recognize each other around town. We acknowledge that we share the same streets, the same stores, watering holes, parks. We nod in familiarity. But included in being neighbors is an element of trust. I know you, we think, as we see each other. I trust you. In other words, You are not a stranger.
I live in a place where I can go to a concert three doors down from my house, look out from the stage, and know that 75% of the people there are not strangers. I've seen them dozens of times before. Although we may never be on a first-name basis, we're friendly and greet each other. I ask about their dog. They ask how Adam's boat-work is going. I love being surrounded by people who are not strangers. It feels a little closer to the New Earth.
Small-town life is a treasure, and one I don't take lightly. I'm so thankful for the simple friendliness of it. I don't have Trader Joe's, World Market, Whole Foods, or Starbucks. It's a trade-off. But I think I am richer for possessing a kind of life that urban existence, with all its glitz and variety, cannot touch.