Imagine your whole life is lived in a small town. Or maybe your life is so all you need to do is think about your life. That is when youíll understand me. My life is, has always been lived in a small town. Until, I decided to change my life.
My parents had been born and raised in our little town of Pettyton, population 300 on a good day. The town consisted of a main street with one grocery store, two gas-stations out by the highway, a bar, a few people selling odds and ends out of run down old buildings, and of course the volunteer fire and ambulance departments. The police office was a small metal building with about two cells (I donít know for sure because Iíve never been inside). The school was only for elementary kids and junior high kids. Everyone else had to drive to Commonville for there years in high school. The reason for that was because up until recently only a few people ever went off to high school. Most of the people my parentís age never went past junior high, they all dropped out and started farming. That was our town. The rest of the town was made of houses scattering the wooded valley where our town was located. Those who didnít farm either sold farm equipment or they worked in one of the bigger companies in Commonville. My parents were farmers. We owned a couple acres; weíd lost a lot of it over the years to other large farming operations. What we still held onto was a large plot of farmland where we grew some corn and another field where we had watermelons growing. Up near our house we had hog lot. Every year we harvested our fields and butchered a few pigs. The crops and processed hog meat was sold by the road by my grandfather and the rest was sold to our local store, minus the little bit we kept for ourselves. We never made much money, but it was always enough to pay the bills and buy our supplies. Thatís all we ever needed.
The next biggest town was Commonville. They had over a thousand people in that city. A lot of the people in and around Pettyton had jobs there and the rest of the farmers in the area sold there crops to one of the several grocery stores in the city along with there own roadside stands. Commonville was a huge place to go for me as a child. Iíd heard of huge cities teaming with people, and I knew Commonville was one of those extraordinary places. They had a paid police, ambulance and fire department. Stores lined the streets for blocks instead of just one street, and you could buy anything your heart desired long before it was available in Pettyton. When I grew up I realized that Commonville was not one of these massive cities, but to me it was more than enough. The traffic was beyond me. I valued my space and in the country I had all the space I needed.
My parents had often preached to me about the evils of the city. They said that if Commonville grew much larger they would have to quit making as many trips there as they used to. They felt it was the cities that brought about the decay of the world. In cities you find a large number of people who seem to have forgotten that we all live together and donít respect one another. In a large city you have to watch who you say hello to because it could get you in trouble. Metropolises are havens for drug abuse, pornography and violence. Sin Capitols, thatís what my parents called them. In pictures they look like large shinny stones, sculpted out of earth and human suffering. The glass of the buildings reflecting everything good, and bad in our world, but with the reflections comes distortions. In Pettyton nothing is reflected, everything is kept on the surface and we all know and value that. Still even with everything I know is wrong about the cities there has always been a strange attraction to then. I had even constructed my own city once. I built it down by my spot at the river.
The river wasnít much of a river; it was more like a small stream, most of the time. Almost every year it flooded but nobody ever complained. The roads were high enough and people were smart enough to keep their crops out of the way. The area was basically only good for hunting. Every year since I was old enough to hold a shotgun me and my dad went out to a spot not far from the river, on the back stretch of our property and waited for hour until the turkey would come by on there way to feed on the grain left in our fields. It was always fun, even if we never got a turkey to come close we still had fun just trying to catch one of these intelligent birds. My dad would sometimes tell me, ďSon, you see how smart these birds are, you donít see them running off to them big cities now do you?Ē I couldnít argue with that. But my spot on the river was a place where I didnít have to argue with anyone. It was my place. My spot was accessible by a small dirt path that I had worn down from a small deer path. It leaded down a small sand and rock hill into the riverbed. The tall oaks that surrounded the area provided shade for the spot. Near the edge of the river the oaks faded and the banks were closely lined with smaller bushy trees and tall grasses. My place was right on a small bend in the river. On the down stream end of the bend I had built a small rocked dam. When the river flooded it went over my dam easily and I usually only needed to replace a few small rocks to get it back in shape when the river came down. The pool that formed behind my dam made a nice spot to fish for small bluegills. Rarely did I ever catch one that was good enough to eat, but it was fun to cast my line and see what came would bite.
The city I built was on the downstream side of the dam. I waded across the river and picked a spot in the shallow waters. I collected as many large rocks from around the area as I could. I even spent a day breaking the rocks into shapes that were close to the shapes of the tall buildings I had seen in movies and pictures. Then when I was done I would lay on the sand bar opposite of my newly constructed city and look across the river at it. The light reflecting off the surface of the river gave me the feeling that it was a real city. I wondered what it would be like to go to the city if there was nothing wrong with it. If the city was nothing more that a large version of Pettyton what would it be like?
That is how my life was spent as a child. By the time I was twenty I had moved out to a small apartment with one of my friends. My friend and I had worked together on several peopleís farms while we were growing up and now we both held part time jobs at one of the gas stations along the highway. Thatís where I meet a girl that changed my life. I was working the evening shift when a young girl around the age of twenty-one came in to pay for her $16.00 in gas. There wasnít another soul in the place and there usually wasnít at this time of night. After she had paid she turned back to me and asked if she knew of a place where she could spend the night that didnít cost too much. I pointed her in the direction of Clarks Inn. The Clark family had run a motel down the road for years, just for the truckers that came through, they only charged $20.00 a night, which was better than any of the places in Commonville. After that she asked me what there was to do in the town at this time of night. I told her anyone over twenty-one was at the bar on Main Street, the sixteen seventeen year olds were out at the county park talking about there cars and what not, and everyone else was either at home with the little kids, or in bed so they could get up for there chores. She gave a little laugh and told me that figured. Confused, I had to ask her why. Thatís when our conversation got started. She told me that in the city half the town was away and at some wild party in one of the many clubs. I told her the only parties we have are family bon-fires and karaoke on Fridays at the bar. I then started to push her about the city. I was still curious to find out about them. She told me she was on her way to the city now, and that she was just stopping here to rest. She was planning to spend a week or so at the city and them head home. We talked more, and I told her how I wanted to go very much. As a joke we started to plan out how I could go to. She said if I would help with gas and some food, she would pay for me to get into all the clubs and the hotel room. I only worked at the gas station on the weekends and the following weekend was to be my weekend off. During the week I worked with my friend at a few different farms, tending crops, mowing grass, feeding the cattle and hogs. I told her my friend could handle it by himself and that he had a little brother that always wanted to come with us so he wouldnít be by himself. The more we talked the more reasonable it sounded. Finally as I was getting ready to ask her to leave so that I could lock up and go home, she lead onto the counter and said, ďIf you let me stay at your place tonight, Iíll take you with me in the morning we can be in the city by Monday night, and weíll be back here by the following Monday evening or Tuesday Morning, What do you say?Ē
I was shocked and stunned. I asked her to wait out side and Iíd think about it while I closed. As soon as the door was shut and locked I saw her go to her car. I figured sheíd drive away but she just stood there looking out across the highway. I knew right then that I was going with her. I had to. This was my chance. I closed as fast as I could and rushed out to tell her. She gave me a smile that said great and I noticed then that she was a quite attractive young woman.
I gave my friend the news that night. He knew how much I wanted to go and he was happy, and a bit nervous for me. After all, I had only just met this girl and I was running off to the city with her. None-the-less, we left for the city the following morning.
The trip was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. We spent the week walking all over the city and she showed my places that sold more things than the whole town of Commonville. She showed me all around the city. We had a blast. Every night we went out to check out a bit of the night life and then weíd go back to the hotel and curl up in the giant bed together. Weíd gotten only a one-bed room to save money. Then on the weekend we went from club to club. By the weekend I didnít want the trip to ever end. We had grown very close and we never left each otherís side. By Saturday we were even changing in the same room instead of running off to the bathroom in a rush to beat the other. By Sunday night we had shared everything two people could share with one another. Then it was over. I had experienced so much, but there was still so much to do. I had gained a friend greater than any other in my life. Still, I knew that I would be leaving her in a day or so.
On Monday night we pulled into the parking area of the building where I rented my apartment. We sat in her car and talked for over an hour. Neither of us wanted it to end so soon. I asked her to spend that last night with me before she headed home. She turned to me, smiled and said, ďitís not far, Iíll be home within an hour, but Iíll come by again soon.Ē Thatís when I got out of the car and stood there as she drove away.
The trip had shown to me that there was nothing wrong with the city. It really was just a large version on Pettyton. The people still ran their daily tasks, went to work, and went out to have a good time when they had free time. I went to bed that night with the firm resolve to not tell my parents or anyone about my trip. They all needed to experience it for themselves. As for her, I still see her, a lot more often now, but as of yet we havenít run off the city again. But thereís always next week.
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