I made another cameo north of the Twin Cities, to the little, forgettable town of Richmond.
Richmond is your classic small town. It's not disconnected from the world, it's about 30 minutes from St. Cloud, the third largest city outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, (and the eighth largest city in the state.) Richmond has a tiny downtown district, a school district, a few recreational amenities and a summer festival. Every town has to have an annual drunk fest.
My college friends and their children live in Richmond. It has been a decent place to raise a family, it appears, and it's not as if they are trapped in their small town. They find their way to St. Cloud, the Twin Cities and out of state on a regular basis.
I visited them today, taking in the festival's parade and the mediocre fireworks show after dark. I've seen it before, it's nothing special, but it's an excuse to go to Richmond and visit my friends, who just returned home from a long vacation.
I was glad I made the trip. I don't find my way up to Richmond more than twice a year, and usually just once in any given calendar year. I see my friends and their kids at other times during the year, so I don't need to make a cameo six times per year. I'm sure if they lived 30 minutes away, instead of 90, I'd drop in for a visit far more often.
Some people like the quiet, less hectic life a small town typically provides. I can appreciate that, but I need the trappings of the asphalt jungle, and all the choices it affords. I have access to thousands of jobs within a short commute, should I decide I need to do something different with my life. I have dozens of entertainment choices within 30 minutes of my apartment, every night of the week. I have numerous grocery stores within 10 minutes of my apartment, not two within the 10-mile radius of my apartment.
Given it is easier than ever to stay connected to the world, life in Richmond probably seems less isolating than it did 20 years ago. I started my life in a small Indiana town, I have vague memories of that life. It wasn't terrible, especially since it was all that I knew. And after graduating from college I spent 2-1/2 years in a city similar to Alexandria. So I have enough experience in the small town and small city atmosphere to know life in the big city, or at least its suburbs, is the only place to be. At least for me.
It's too bad I'm having such a tough time enjoying this life.