I had this moment tonight, when I sitting in front of my town's municipal building drinking wine after the Christmas parade, that I wondered how I ended up living in the middle of a storybook town filled with so many marvelous characters.
(I am not going to spell out who the characters are. You all know who you are. And if you do not, that is even better, you are more of a character than I ever imagined!)
This is our 6th year on Eldridge, in Haddon Township, and somehow, I think, that I am maybe now a little bit of a townie. I scoffed at becoming a townie. I moved here because the schools were great, the walkability was lovely and it seemed urban enough without actually being urban. I did not move here to make new friends and build a whole new life. But, here I am, a shell of my former self, obsessed with town traditions.
Everyone is friendly here, even when they are not friendly by midwestern standards, they are Jersey friendly. I am sure there are more than a few people who fear me (My husband says that I yell all the time; I say sorry if people cannot handle the truth.Also everyone should be terrified of me, I am a writer!). And there are still people I don't know at all. But, it is a wonderful thing to know you can walk down the middle of a closed down road and see 30 different people that you know and love waiting for the holiday parade. It is a gift to be hugged and smiled at and waved at. And even lovelier to come home and have your son's soccer teammate at your door, dropping off his soccer tournament trophy. Or to be unloading groceries and be stopped by an older woman who tells you how much they enjoy chatting with your mother (but also how they don't understand why she walks to Camden and has decided to have a talk with her. Thank you neighbor Pat!)
That's the sort of town I live in--the one where we are all connected somehow and we all are raising our kids and ourselves, together.
There is also a healthy dose of controversy that keeps the town Facebook groups lively--and me very much entertained. I know people don't like "negativity," and there is definitely a lot of fear around change in this town. And while I am a little bit townie, I am still me, and I think loud voices can be change makers and challengers. .. . .and usually the controversies are super bizarre. This week the town is at odds over an email that went out about police making welfares checks if you don't tell the school your kid is going to be absent by 9 am. (middle school parents received a slightly militant letter.). . Next week, there will be something new (perhaps complaints over loud music or booms). By the summer, I'll be ranting about kids riding their bikes without helmets. And I am sure there will be continued controversy out of the middle school, which is often the epicenter of conflict.
This place is freaking great. Plus, there is the public holiday drinking, which isn't frowned upon and suits me (and Santa!) just fine.