Small is a town

Real towns, places with neighbors, places with histories, and old people who got old living there, those kinds of towns don’t ever let go of their sons. Regardless of distance traveled or struggles fought. Towns of families, towns of people, towns of agreement and towns of reasonable discourse and debate, maintain a spiritual tether. I don’t use that word lightly, but it can only be my spirit, which I feel, now tethered to that place I came from. When I was a child in a creek and the tree and the field, I absorbed that place. I ground the dirt into every cut and swallowed the water that ran down the tree trunks and into the rivers that ran through my land. What is native? I can’t say it really matters to me, be a native of yourself, be a native to your own life. Leave the titling to stuck-ups who need that kind of list to make decisions by. I will continue to measure my longing for a place by Carl Woodage’s tape measure. It’s in my bag now. It’s the kind of object that holds secrets, small memories, it’s really a trigger tool, that reminds me of my tenure as child of family/community. That tape measure is a time machine every time I see it or touch it. I measure the world around me with a tool coated in history. History has always been worn into objects, in fact I would say its pretty hard to wear the history off something like a penny or a pocket knife even harder to catalog all that that history can mean to anyone individual as they recall it.
Much of my life has been spent imagining, which is not to discount the time spent skipping flat rocks across that calm pool of water down the hill from my back yard. I imagined parts of life I couldn’t fully access. Soccer teams of kids and their parents driving them back and forth on cold mornings. The workers inside the bus barn in downtown Ridgefield, its dusty glass and milky light seductive to any twelve year old who passed and found themselves noses pressed to cold glass chin resting on rough brick. A place totally and completely boring to them seemed a magic workshop of fantastic potential to me. The back of the bread truck the milk truck the chip truck as the drivers slammed the gates down too quickly to view the surplus of merchandise being hauled into Zebruns Starliner.
Everyday my town wakes itself up, straightens its aching bones and goes about another day, but it never lets go entirely of its boys, its girls, who traverse the world in search of a variety of success and knowledge and adventure. Not that Ridgefield has a short supply of adventure, the traveling children of this town, because they will always be children of this town, are carefully threading their paths through a maze of strangers, who will likely at some point ask the best question ever. “Where are you from?”
Pride is a funny thing, its one of those emotions or feelings that has such a bad rap that it even merited a deadly sin listing. Now how the hell would I get anywhere without pride. How does anyone ever succeed at anything without the basic guttural knowledge of ones own self value and desire to be better than yesterday. If waking up ever causes me not to strive for a better day then the one that came before, than I recommend the closest geographical loved one should come and kick me in the ass, and quick. Likewise I will oblige. But pride for hometown does something else. It’s like miss remembering your nephews ability to fly or the quantity of rotations he executed during a back flip off a diving board. Because in the misremembering we make it true. We remember our hometowns as places of safety and sanctuary because that’s what they are, that’s the whole point of a hometown, a physical geographical reference point to what you consider good.
This is what I believe is good. My mom and her kitchen. The grass that grows in Ridgefield. (so green Ireland gets jealous) Trees so tall they put you in your place. Rivers that lead places. Friends who don’t miss you as much as wait for you to return. Hugs from people when you need them and vice versa. Curvy roads built by people who liked how much fun curvy roads are to drive. Knowing that you are almost home by every turn. Leaving my keys in the car overnight because I want to believe “they” aren’t out to get me.
My town still has me and I still have it, this week it will celebrate a holiday without me present, but it should know it won’t change a damn thing, cause we already put in the work and a town never lets go of its sons.


  1. From Allene Wodaege: You wrote an astounding tribute to Ridgefield. We from Ridgefield are bursting our turkey feathers just knowing you. Thank you.

  2. Remember how exclamation points are over used and really should not count as a form of punctuation? So, WOW. You said it how lots of us feel, but never find the words to put on a piece of our piece of paper. Tears were running heavy here. Thanks.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts