Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Small Big town

Though Raleigh has grown by leaps and bounds since we moved here in 1969, in many respects,  it is still a small town. A population of over 400,000 makes no difference, nor do the thousands of people who live outside the city limits, but still do all their shopping and commerce in or near the city. 

In May, we have a festival called Artsplosure, held in the downtown area. It is usually well attended, and today's activities saw many people gathering in the streets. For those of us who provide flowers  (or music, or food, etc.) to weddings and receptions, festivals such as Artsplosure can throw a monkey wrench into the day's schedule. We didn't have a problem today; however, since the blocked streets were not in the exact area we needed to be. 

As Mel (my employer) and I entered the downtown area, I sent a text  to daughter two; asking where she was, since I knew she and her husband were planning to attend. As luck would have it, they had just parked and were only a minute away from our second destination. I told them where the reception was being held, and they met us there. Afterward, I was struck by the serendipity of it, and how seldom it might happen that we would be that near to someone we know at any given moment. 

When we moved here in late August of 1969, we knew no one. Mr. kenju had met a few people in his new office, of course, and that was the extent of our social connections.  We began to meet people in the apartment complex we lived in, and after 18 months, we bought our first house here and met people in that neighborhood. Having children is a good way to meet people too, as we quickly learned.  

It only took a few years of living here before we began to see people we knew at the malls, shopping centers, flea markets, churches and the children's schools. We finally felt that we were a part of the city. That continued for years, and then Raleigh kept growing and growing and growing. 

For the last 10/12 years, I seldom see anyone I know when I am shopping, unless it is within a 3 mile radius of our house. Everywhere we go, there are strangers. Every other car has a license plate from another state  (or foreign country.)  Unfamiliar accents abound, new and exotic restaurants open and sometimes close before we have taken the opportunity to try their foods. 

I promise you I am not complaining about any of these things. I love that our city is becoming a more cosmopolitan area (though we have far to go in that respect.) The only downside of this unprecedented growth is that traffic is horrible, no matter what time of the day you go out. There are times when my commutes to work and home take far longer than they used to, due to the sheer volume of vehicles on the roads at all times. This is when I wish that the cartoons of the 50's regarding the future, where helicopters and personal aircraft (or monorails) were the norm - had happened. Raleigh and this whole area missed the boat over the last 2-3 decades by not building some sort of rail system (either elevated or underground) to link all areas of the city with nearby areas, especially the outlying "bedroom communities."

I have no idea where I am going with this  - and since it is 1:30 am - I will close. I was just bemused by being able to meet my daughter and her husband on the spur of the moment....LOL


OldLady Of The Hills said...

It sounds like your town/city is that rare combination of small and getting bigger....! People tell me that the traffic here in L.A.---which was never good, is now Atrocious! I always loved the small-town feel of L.A.----it's ALL Neighborhoods....But, it sounds like though that is still somewhat true, there are just more and more people here, which means, more and more cars! And our "Metro" system just isn't big enough to make the difference they were hoping for....I hope Raleigh doesn't get so bad that you can no longer get around in an easy way.....!

ARTSPLOSURE sounds wonderful....!

Granny Annie said...

That is exactly how I felt about Tulsa. Living there forty years with 32 of those years as a banker, I rarely went anywhere that I didn't run into someone I knew. Tulsa pop. is around 600,000. Now we live in a rural community and our town has a population of 1500 and we rarely run into anyone we know.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am attracted to small towns but can't help but resent those who come to my towns for the same reasons I did. Soon, the town is no longer small. Good with the bad.
I never thought about how big events that eat up parts of a town effect delivery persons or those with a job to do.

Pat said...

It sure is a pleasure to get an n
unexpected meeting with a loved one.