Friday, June 03, 2005

The Disconnected

I live in a little town in the midwestern United States. I suspect it's like a lot of other towns in the world.

In my little town, everybody knows everybody else, mostly. There is a core of people who have lived here their whole lives, and who know everyone else who's always lived here. The friendly members of the core group also know the newcomers. If your parents didn't grow up in town, you're a newcomer. You're Disconnected.

In my little town there aren't muggings, car jackings, or other violent crime. There are domestic disputes, and a while back an arsonist got to a few empty mobile homes out at the trailer park. They never officially accused park management.

I drive an hour each way to work every day. I don't mind the drive itself, nor really the expense of the drive or what it does to the environment. I'm used to the hour in the car. The cost of living in my little town is a lot lower than in a city, so I'm keeping the oil companies in business instead of some landlord or bank. And I think the fields of corn and soybeans I drive past look fairly healthy despite, or the cynic in me says because of, my production of greenhouse gases.

As a result of working an hour away from where I live, I'm Disconnected from my little town. My kids go to school there, and I try to be involved in the social life of the town, which revolves around church socials and softball games. But it's not the same as living and working around the same people.

I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat. Fewer people these days live in the same town that produced their parents. Fewer children spend much time around their grandparents and extended family. Fewer married couples have the dense web of relationships to bind them together. Fewer old people have adult children nearby, which often forces them into a nursing home before it would otherwise be necessary.

Looking back, I don't know what I'd do differently to stay connected, or if I really even want to.

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