When I was a kid and into my teen years, you would have seen me keeled over before listening to country music. I grew up in a home that rules classic rock supreme and my mom taught me Motown sound at the earliest age. I discovered punk as a preteen and fell in musical love with The Ramones, The Smiths, and my ultra-fave, The Sex Pistols by purchasing old cassettes and using my public library to its fullest potential.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I discovered that all country music doesn’t make me gag or cry into a PBR, whining over my lost dog and/or truck.
I started listening to the stories. Because as a person that has an affinity for stories, storytellers, and storytelling, they matter to me.
The fourteen year old screaming “God Save the Queeen” one day found herself humming along to the lines of Kenny Chesney’s “Back Where I Come From” and thinking, “dude…. That’s so me…”
As a teen, I never thought I’d remain in a small town. I wanted to write for a magazine, which required (so I thought) moving to a larger city. My mom was hoping for Chicago. A closer alternative to the New York I thought of at the time.
But, as they so often do, things change.
And I love my small town. It’s pretty here, and I’m now sitting in one of our many parks.
But the truth I’ve discovered has little to do with my love of small towns. It’s that country music had it right all along. Actually, Miranda Lambert has been the “most” correct. Everyone is famous in a small town. And in my town, you better look out because it’s not only that everyone knows each other, most people are also related.
And in said small towns, interesting things happen for seemingly no reason.
Yesterday, I was offered a job. While at my summer job. Being kind to strangers doesn’t go out of fashion, but it will make you famous. (Please start polishing my walk of fame star now.)
I met the owner of The Horseshoe Grill in Brown City, Michigan. We chatted casually, but I felt like I’d known this woman for years. She has a friendly face, and reminds me of Monica, one of my best friends, who coincidentally owns a bakery. She told me about her restaurant, and I scribbled the name on some receipt paper and tucked it in my pocket.
Her offer made me smile for hours and even into today. Mostly because it is nice to have someone, a stranger, see my character before anything else, and I knew she was appraising me based on the way she was watching me treat other people, and herself.
I like to eat, and the food was excellent.
Not only that, but it was pretty and clean with friendly staff and genuine smiles.
They were playing country music.
As we later strolled our own small town, I looked across the parks and the sidewalks and thought “I’m lucky.”
First to be from a place this beautiful, and second to be somewhat famous here.
I’m happy to live fairly close to places like The Horseshoe Grill.
My park. My place. Where a country girl can wear her Sex Pistols Converse and a flowing sundress. It might be strange, but it’s a small town. We all are.
So if you see a thirty-something screaming the lyrics to The Smiths while wearing a Kenny Chesney shirt and Sex Pistols Chucks, it is me.
On my way and traveling through my town. And my life.
Bless my soundtrack. It’s varied.
Or, as artists call it multi medium.
All photos from Lapeer, Michigan.