It wasn’t a large town, but it was a beautiful one, in its way.
Picturesque, charming. The sort of town where everybody knew everybody, and everybody had a smile for you whenever you needed one. The people were friendly, the view of the lake from the porch of the house where I was living was amazing, it seemed the perfect place to settle down and finally start a family.
Beneath the surface, everything seemed… spent, somehow. Hollow. Like the town’s best days were behind it.
Everyone was friendly, true, but there was a sadness lurking as they went through their lives. They spoke often of their personal glories of days past, but nobody ever seemed to do anything in the now.
Imperceptibly, something was off about every single person I met there. They wanted something, something they couldn’t quite put their finger on, and until they had it they somehow knew they wouldn’t be complete. Couldn’t be complete.
And to make matters worse, nobody seemed able to properly articulate what it was they lacked. So they moved through their days, charming, smiling, lost, knowing they were lost, not knowing why, and as I watched them do so I knew I couldn’t stay.
I couldn’t live among these people, their sadness was too contagious. I found myself wondering more and more what might have been had my own life gone differently, had I made different choices. Too often, I would find myself fondly remembering my own youth as I sat at the counter of the town’s local diner, not often enough would I be actually doing the things that make life living out there in the world.
There’s a lot to make life living, if you’re willing to look for it. A million marvels just outside your door, waiting to be discovered. I’d made that notion the centerpiece of my life, and my new home was slowly causing me to forget it.
Which was unacceptable. So I had to go, and never look back.
And that’s why I moved away from the John Cougar Mellencamp song, and lived in a Journey song instead. The small town there was exactly the same, except that people still dreamed big…