Dawn O Watson/CNBNews Contributor
(Gloucester City, NJ)(February 17, 2020)--I live in a small town. No, I wasn’t born here. I was adopted.
It’s gritty, my town. Filled with what others might think of as “characters”—folks that have sat at the bottom of one too many sad endings. Folks that are awakened each night by the sounds of the skeletons that hide in their closets, waiting to bust out when they can do the most damage.
These are good people. Many are the left-brained leftovers of their parents strict upbringing. Now, they write, and they paint, they sing, and they photograph the ugliness clear out of their lives. They see joy, even if it’s microscopic or off-key.
Nowhere else will a stranger see you fall and pick you up, then check on you later to see if you’re all right. Nowhere I’ve ever been, at least.
I was new here when my husband died. They came. They came and they brought flowers and casseroles, sympathy cards and huge cups of coffee. And so, I stayed, even when my heart was broken into a million pieces.
When I hit rock bottom and lost my home they came. They helped me build a camper, gave me money, food, warm clothes. And so, I stayed, even when the terror of the situation woke me up at night and cast shadows on the walls to haunt me, drive me mad.
These hard-nosed, blue collar givers of the heart ask nothing in return. Some of them scream, curse, flick their cigarette butts into the street after drinking an airplane bottle of white liquid that will eventually rot their guts. And yet, they give.
Where else will your gas station attendant ask if you’re okay when you hand him two dollars in change? Where else can you run a tab at the hardware store because the folks that own it know you’ll pay when you can?
There is nowhere else I’d rather hit bottom and nowhere else I’d rather climb to the top or stay somewhere in the middle. It’s all the same, here.
This is my town. These are my people.
Photograph by Heidi Weaver