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Inside Out

A little bit of mystery

Jeanne Sager
Posted 3/22/22

There’s a look my husband gets on his face when I start to piece together how someone he’s just met is related to someone else he knows.

It’s one part serious as the gears in his …

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Inside Out

A little bit of mystery

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There’s a look my husband gets on his face when I start to piece together how someone he’s just met is related to someone else he knows.

It’s one part serious as the gears in his mind churn through the new information and one part mystified by the sheer amount of said information stored away in my own brain.

I grew up in Sullivan County, where just about everyone is connected to everyone else via a hop, skip, and jump through the brain. I know this isn’t unusual. Small towns everywhere are made up of the same complicated amalgamations of people.

But when you marry an out-of-towner, even after they’ve lived “in town” for more than 20 years, those complicated mixtures are completely foreign.

Untangling small town connections comes naturally to those who grew up in a small town, not so to those who move in.

That only became all the more apparent this weekend, as my own brain was put to the test that I put my husband’s through on a regular basis.

We’d driven all the way to Virginia so he could be witness to his childhood friend renewing his vows and I could photograph the special occasion. I’d lived in the town for a short time after we first got married only to feel the lure of Sullivan County that so many of us feel after we leave.

I was familiar with street names and family names, knew some of the traditions.

But this time it was my husband’s turn to put my brain through all its paces, to make connections I couldn’t see, to sit in a room with people I didn’t know and find the sort of common ground I’ll never make.

There are good reasons to move far, far away from your hometown, the sorts of reasons why children scatter and adults move on.

I should know. I’m the reason my husband made that move.

Still, there’s a piece of your hometown that really never leaves you, a piece of a puzzle that can only be completed when you encounter others from that same hometown who know just what memories to conjure and which names to drop to make things fit.

Sitting on the outside, your brain begins to whir and the gears start to turn, but a part of you will always be just a little bit mystified.

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