The family with the annual crowns for Christmas dinner.
Cody got his own crab this year. He ate half and then gave up. Crab is a meal you work for.
Becca (niece) and her baby doll and crown! Precious.
I spent almost a full week with my family in St. George, Utah this week. I shopped everyday, spent time with my sisters, talked to my brother serving a mission in Japan, and played with my niece and nephew. Christmas was great and so was the amazing food that we ate. We each got our own crab and ate BBQ ribs to our hearts desire on Christmas and enjoyed the traditional ham dinner on Christmas Eve. I got a sewing machine and a beautiful bracelet from Cody and other great gifts from my family. Cody came in the middle of the week and on our way back together, I really began to realize how different my life in Alamo and the life in a city was.
Before I begin my observations I need to preface it with my sincere admiration for Alamo, Nevada. I will simply be stating facts that I have observed. There may be at times some comments made that may lead you to believe that I do not prefer life in a small town, but alas this is where my husband works and I have therefore chosen to make this home.
is a town without stop lights or sidewalks. We were driving one night on a road that has plenty of houses on it and I asked why it was not paved. Cody explained to me that once the sidewalks come, it is no longer a small town. He made it sound like the end of civilization as we know it. Cody is country to the core.
Alamo’s maximum speed limit is 25. The town buildings include a courthouse/library, a pizza place, high school and elementary, and a Sinclair gas station/grocery store. O, I almost forgot the post office. For me the post office is a daily routine. It is the hub of the town and it is somehow a window to the outside world. Cody explained to me that the post master was once a prestigious position in the town because they knew everyone and all the news. I love our postmaster and she probably truly knows almost everyone in town.
When my roommate Jackie came to visit I was so amused by her fascination with being in the middle of no where. She kept saying it as though she were looking at it in a museum and would have to tell the news to her family. She is city to the core.=) Alamo is truly in the middle of the Nevada desert. Dead looking shrubs are the plant life and closer to water trees dot the valley. This compared to the beautiful trees, mountains and rivers of Northern California do not impress me nearly as much as my native Alamo husband. We all have our flavors. I remember going to my friend Brett’s house in Hiko (adjacent to Alamo and almost one and the same) and actually being scared. I had been living in Vegas and the middle of no where is scary and very lonely. Brett’s house was not scary though.
I make lists for our trips to town now and think a lot about what I will do when I get there. The lists include getting food, watching a movie and shopping. I have discovered that it is not really about shopping, but about being around a bunch of strangers. There is something in me that loves being alone and unknown amid a crowd of people. I think of town with excitement and freedom. Truly for someone that has had everything at their fingertips all the time, there is something liberating about being around a lot of people and having options all the time.
It is easier to know everyone, but it is also easier to run into the same people 5000 times in one day. That was a shocker at first. One of the most funny experiences I have had multiple times is when I grocery shop (at the gas station) and I see someone I kn0w and say hello and then go on my way. Well, a few minutes later I meet the same person at the post office because they too were obviously going to check their mail while they were out as well. You don’t mean to follow people around, but there are only so many places to go. First few times–awkward. =)
A few people play all the roles. One person could be a school teacher, a coach, a Sunday school teacher, the neighbor and occasionally the friend to a child in town. I always hated running into my students because it was weird for me to have them see me outside of my teacher role. They would look at me as though they were asking, “You have a life outside of being a teacher?” In Alamo you can’t help but see students everywhere. The relaxed relationships between student-teacher and even teacher-principal has been a very odd for me. Work, school, church, sports and every other activity you can imagine is all lumped into one great big pot of a few people.
Sports. I was watching an inspirational basketball movie the other night and in the movie this small town set in the 40s or 50s have a caravan for the recent state basketball champs. In Alamo a caravan still exists. Whenever a sports team wins a championship the whole town jumps in their vehicles and parades around town honking their horns. The fire trucks and police cars are in the mix making noise as well. Those that are not in the caravan stand outside their house and wave or flip their porch lights on and off to show their support. In Redding, there were about three high schools. There was school rivalry, but teams won and lost and it was not a big deal. Competition was fierce considering the size and variety of California. Also, I may not have been as gung ho as some because girls tennis and soccer were my interest and were not followed as closely as basketball and football. Plus, there were so many other things to do in Redding that balanced any mass interest in sports. In Alamo, it seems that it is sports or social death. I loved playing sports growing up. Learning about teamwork, dedication and discipline have enriched my life, but what about those that do not have an interest or affinity for sports? What about the other sports? What can they do? Here in Alamo there is little to entertain. It is a drive to Las Vegas/St. George, or it is nothing. I have also found that academic excellence is sometimes foreshadowed by the push for sports. I know that there are going to be different interests among the students because of their upbringing in a rural place, but academics should always come first. My children will never step foot on a playing field until they have displayed excellence in their studies (that does not mean qualifying grades because a 2.o GPA means you don’t care about school, but you care enough to play a sport.) The movie Forever Strong has some great bonus features and the real coach shares some great wisdom. He explained that his son could come home with an A in a class and it would be nothing to him if his son got the grade easily or with little effort and progression, but if the son brought home a C grade and said that he had given it his all and had learned something, then this would be an acceptable grade. I, too, believe that grades do not always reflect effort or actual learning.
Yesterday as I drove home from the Whipple Ranch, I looked out at the fields, the cows and horses grazing in the sunlight. There is a special beauty to the Pahranagat Valley. It reminds me of the pastoral settings in books that I love. The freedom of a small town lies in the miles and miles of land that are seemingly untouched. Freedom stretches with the surrounding mountains and canyons. As I have said before the traditions of a place that has little changed since its establishment in the early 1800s has something romantic about it.
All in all, Alamo is unique and very different from growing up in a city. I miss Redding and wish that I could take Cody to see where I grew up.
Good bye 2009. Hello 2010. Happy New Year to all!