How to live in a small town

Raquel Vaughn-

Small-town living is not for the faint of heart. There’s rarely ever anything to do, and you can get from one side of town to the other in 15 minutes or less. I’m from Fairmont, MN, which is south of here and has a population of about 11,000 people. The closest Target and Starbucks is an hour away in Mankato, MN. Don’t get me wrong, we do have grocery stores and coffee shops. We have Wal-Mart (which is either extremely busy or abandoned and never in between), Hy-Vee, and a Fareway. Other than our failed Starbucks (which is now Cavers Realty), we have coffee shops: Caribou, Scooters, Graffiti Corner, and another one that sells expensive Italian coffee and is only open until noon. This is what Journey was talking about when being a “small-town girl.”

I’m aware that the majority of everyone reading this currently lives in St. Peter and also has to drive out of town to get to the closest Target and Wal-Mart. But what’s 10 minutes to an hour? When I lived in Sherburn, MN, a town ten times smaller than my hometown, I had to drive 15 minutes to get to the closest Kwik Trip. That’s right, I had to not only work at Kum & Go but sign up for a rewards card from there. What’s embarrassing is that Sherburn is one of two Minnesota locations for Kum & Go. If anyone is qualified to talk about surviving in a small town, it’s definitely me.

As I’ve already stated, Fairmont has a Wal-Mart. When everything closes at seven or eight at night, my friends and I would go to Wal-Mart and mess around. You can’t necessarily be a weirdo in Target because it’s Target. But Wal-Mart is a different story. You can go through the apparel section, the athletics, and the party aisle. In my opinion, the most fun thing is messing around in the toy aisle. There’s bound to be a lightsaber or sword somewhere. And if the toy section fails, then there’s always the electronics section, where you can imagine having all the things you’re too broke to buy. You can be as obnoxious, loud, and silly because nobody cares. At the end of the day, Wal-Mart will always be an option. And if your town is so small that it doesn’t have one, then any store will do.

My hometown also has a few opportunities to just chill if sitting and chatting is more your style. Graffiti Corner is always a good option. It’s a frozen yogurt and coffee shop with vibes similar to River Rock here in St. Peter. Or there’s Edie’s, a breakfast diner that is open until 1:00 pm. I rarely go there because of their short hours, but their hashbrowns are better than anything I’ve ever had in my life. I’m aware you may not have a Graffiti Corner or an Edie’s, but any coffee shop and diner would work.

Fairmont is small enough to be considered a hick town but big enough to have a few things that keep the younger generation occupied. Although considered a city where your grandparents would live, Fairmont has a mini golf course, a water park, a movie theater, and five beaches. Sure, the mini golf course may be infested with spiders, and the coolest thing about our movie theater seats may be the plastic cupholders, but these are places where memories are made.

Look, I understand that living in a small town is more like surviving than anything else. Your closest friends probably live on a farm 30 minutes away from your high school. Or maybe when your movie theater closed down for nearly five years during Covid, you had to drive an hour away just to see a movie. Or maybe you’re just bound to run into somebody you know no matter where you go. People I graduated with work at the US Bank in my hometown. Not even my bank is a safe place anymore!

But there’s something beautiful about small towns. They are the few places on earth where things don’t matter. If you’re successful, smart, good-looking, and extroverted, then that’s great, but you come from a small town so it doesn’t really matter. Like, of course, you’re smart—there are only a hundred other people in your graduating class. And if you’re not, that doesn’t matter either. You’re from a small town so it’s only up from here. If the rules do not apply to Fairmont, MN, then they most likely don’t apply to your small town either.

Romanticize your small town, and you’ll begin to understand that maybe it’s not all that bad. Eat ice cream at the park, read your book by the lake (or maybe just even in your car during a rainstorm), or grab your friends and take a trip to the nearest grocery store. You can drive as fast as you want there. The stars are prettier out there. And when you look past the smell of manure, you can pick out the scent of fresh grass in the spring, too. Small towns are beautiful because at the end of the day, where else are you going to find a library, three bars, two churches, a Bible bookstore, and a smoke shop all on the same street?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *