When we drive up to Frank’s family’s house near the Wisconsin border, we pass through a lot of small towns. Lately, because of Frank’s schedules, we have been traveling up north separately, which means that I spend more time watching the road than taking in the surrounding landscape.
Our ride up north is actually pretty scenic. Many of the towns feel like vacation towns because they are so close to the Chain of Lakes. Some of the buildings on the road feel very temporary – like the people who built them 30 or 40 years ago just weren’t sure how long they’d be around. But with continual sprawl of Chicago, the towns stay full almost year-round and the temporary-feeling “strip malls” with bait shops and bakeries serve a mostly permanent population.
I was thinking that as I am someone who perpetually “passes through” these towns on my way to somewhere else, I often miss the charm of these buildings and streets. I feel almost annoyed at the stop lights and stop signs along the way, forgetting that my highway north is someone else’s main street.
Today I imagined what it must be like to wake up in a quiet little town along some of the busiest lakes in the area. I wondered what it is like to go to school in one of these towns, imagining that some of the students were itching to leave while others envisioned a future where they raised children that would one day attend the same schools and churches. And I thought that perhaps some of the kids riding their bikes up to the local convenience store/gas station probably looked at our cars weaving through their familiar streets and thought to themselves, “I wonder where they are going in such a hurry?”
In some ways, we are all like our own towns. Some of us are very metropolitan, with lots of people coming and going, fluid and dynamic. Some of us are suburban with more family-oriented interests. And some of us are like these sweet sleepy towns, enjoying where we are and our tight circle of close friends and family. And I don’t think there is a right kind of town to be – sometimes in my life I’ve been more urban and other times I’ve been more small town. Today’s reflection reminded me to take time and enjoy where I am, even if I’m just passing through.