That Small Town Feeling

Some may mock me for saying this but I think that Santa Barbara has that small town kind of feeling.

Granted, my perspective is a bit skewed since I have only ever lived in big cities. Make that two out of the top three largest cities in the United States: the Los Angeles suburbs known lovingly as “The Valley” (yes, I am a “Valley Girl” but do not say “like” any more than you do, thank you very much), and the south side of Chicago (the very definition of urban jungle). The third “big” city I’ve called home is Seattle, which I considered to be on the small side but I know Christy thinks is much too large for comfort.

Still, you can’t deny the tell-tail signs of familiarity that life in a town with a population less than 500,000 people brings.

For instance, I see the same cars driving around town and often know at least in which direction the owners live if not exactly where they reside. On a given day, I can go to the post office and then the library and see the same customers in both places.

Given enough time in the conversation, people you just meet at a work gathering or friend’s party are sure to know someone you know from church or school or one of the various community moms’ playgroups.

But if that’s not enough, I can almost guarantee that I see at least one person that I actually, really know while out on an errand. Last week I went to Trader Joe’s and saw two gals I personally knew from two separate organizations. Then at Costco, on the same outing, I recognized a lady and her sweet son that I’d only ever heard about but had never met (our children share the same Early Start therapist since they both have heart issues).

Need more proof? While browsing through a local photographer’s online galleries I saw lovely photos of a woman and her daughter I know from Warren’s school.

Christmas parades, outings to the zoo, and beach trips are also hot-spots for sighting people you’ve interacted with before. It’s pretty much unavoidable.

And you know what? I love it. Not so small that the main source of entertainment is keeping track of one another’s personal business, and not so big that no one cares or even notices beyond his own street corner, Santa Barbara seems to be just the right size. I love that it feels like a true community here. People seem a little more invested because it’s so obvious we’re all neighbors.

It’s a good feeling. It feels like home.

4 thoughts on “That Small Town Feeling”

  1. As soon as Lucas was old enough to get involved in sports and school, the ‘community’ feel came into effect for me. All of a sudden I am seeing outside of my house, street and Church friends. It feels good. Then again, it is populated enough around here that I can drive less than 15 minutes away and probably not recognize anyone. I also like the ‘small town’ feel you describe and am happy that I have a little bit of it right where I am.

  2. Hahaha I love that you wrote that we have different feelings about Seattle! As soon as I read the first paragraph, I thought “I’m totally saying that in my comment”, and then you said it for me! But you’re making Santa Barbara sound pretty sweet. Maybe we can live in the same city and both like it…

  3. The only problem with that small town feeling is that you have to get dressed EVERY time you go to the grocery store, for fear you might run into someone important!

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