Tag Archives: Geography

The most distinctive feature in my horizon is the water tower

Small-town girl.

Urban Dictionary’s first definition is this:

Your girl-next-door who is not afraid to drive her man’s truck, loves to shoot her 22, makes Mossy Oak look hot, spends summers at the lake; her favorite place to eat is the back yard. Small-town girls think that big trucks are better than sports cars, and a good farmer tan turns them on.

Two references to trucks? Really?

The second definition for small-town girl in Urban Dictionary is even less flattering:

An ugly fat chick who drives a pickup truck and listens to shitty country music.

Ouch. Apparently small-town girls spend a lot of time in vehicles. John Cougar Mellencamp’s 1982 song “Jack & Diane,” which epitomizes small-town life for teenagers has a line, “Diane [is] debutante backseat of Jackie’s car.”

Let’s go a little more traditional (because that’s what a small-town girl values, besides her man and his truck); Cambridge Dictionary defines “small-town” as an adjective describing “of or from a small town, and sometimes having a simple or limited quality.”

Being described as a “small-town girl” makes me cringe. “Simple”? Really? Call me “cosmopolitan,” “well-traveled” or “sophisticated,” and I’m all, “Pshaw.”

But anyone who says “pshaw” has got to be small-town.

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, no way around it. I lived in a small town in Ohio in my 20s. I lived for a decade in what felt like the big city. But even with 50,000 inhabitants, it was a small town in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota. The best restaurant in the town was Olive Garden. The tallest building had five stories. Surely, the best-selling vehicle was a Ford pick-up.

And though I like to tell people now I live in Chicagoland (accent on “Chicago”), I still live in a small town. It’s surrounded by corn fields, and that’s no exaggeration.

Here’s proof:

little city skyline

“A person can grow only as much as his horizon allows.” ~ John Powell

There’s no skyline like a little city’s skyline. See that water tower in the center of the horizon? (Squint — it’s to the left of the barn.) That water tower stands about a mile north of my suburban house (keen readers will note I’ve snagged a fragment of this picture for my blog header).

My small town sits on the edge of Chicago’s suburbia. A few minutes driving east, and you’ll find more Home Depots, venti soy lattes and traffic than you can throw a stick at.

I’m drawn to the concrete jungle or at least I like to think I am. As I was driving around in my silver Honda today on my way home from a sophisticated, cosmopolitan meeting, I felt like part of an exciting crowd. Yet my drive ended in my little city on the edge of the suburbs. My small-town subconscious is clearly making the decisions.

“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.”

~ Author Amelia Barr