Sometime in April 2000, I moved home after having spent eight months living in Banff, Alberta. Because I was newly returned and apparently had nothing better to do with my time, one evening I found myself hanging out with a group of hometown strangers. One particularly pompous individual in the group began to pontificate, as pompous individuals are wont to do. His little speech went something like this:
Pompous Individual: You can’t spend your entire life just in Steinbach. You need to get out and see more of the world. I’ve seen a LOT of the world. I know I haven’t asked any of you if you’ve ever left, but I’ll just assume you haven’t and keep on yelling at you as if you’ll never get out of this town and realize just how crappy it really is. Also, you’re really lucky to have me sitting here yelling at you like this. You’re welcome.
Me: (thinking to self) What an asshole.
Okay okay okay… yes that was 14 year ago, so perhaps the lecture didn’t go quite that way… but I think we can all agree that I probably caught the jist of that situation with a fair amount of accuracy. *self-assured nod*
I still encounter these infantile attitudes even now, well into adulthood — the assumption that if you actually like your hometown, you must just never get out, or you must be completely ignorant, or both.
Well, maybe I am ignorant. But I most definitely do get out. I get out in Paris. I get out in Tokyo. I get out in Buenos Aires. And yet, I always return home and find that I still love Steinbach.
But I don’t love Steinbach in a delusional way. Ohhhhh no. I’m well aware of the flaws and frustrations of living here. And lord knows I hear my fellow locals complaining ALL THE TIME about this place. Apparently all the drivers are idiots: yes, we’ve really cornered the market on motorist-idiocy. What else? Oh, right, it’s winter about seven months of the year, and it’s very cold here. So that’s another thing to hate. And then there’s… RELIGION.
Yes, I said it! RELIGION.
I feel like I should add, “Boogoody boogoody BOO!” to that statement. Haha ohhhhh man, what a conflicting issue THAT is. And WOW do I love thinking about it. I relish it. It fascinates me. I could listen to people hash out this multi-faceted issue all day long, regardless of which side (of the MANY sides available) they take on Steinbach’s storied history with religion. Yes. My beloved town was indeed founded by Mennonites, which is a branch of Christianity. But… I won’t get into that right now. I think that deserves its own post… and I’d have to drink more, first.
KR Barkman Park. The local Arts Council puts on concerts there in the summer, and many outdoor weddings happen here. It’s lovely.
But there’s LOTS to love about Steinbach. And I plan to write posts about my town and region periodically, in addition to stories from our travels. But, you know, this isn’t a book, it’s just a blog post. So I’ll just share one particular characteristic that I love about Steinbach for now:
A few years ago, I found myself on a committee planning an event… and the first meeting I attended erupted in an argument about waffles. I kid you not. It was one of the most delightful moments of my Steinbachian citizenship.
Citizen 1: What about the waffles? We must have waffles.
Citizen 2: The ladies are elderly and tired. They refuse to make the waffles.
C1: Well then get them to teach some younger people to make the waffles.
C2: The ladies will not teach anyone their secret recipe for the waffles.
C1: We need those waffles! They are integral to the event!
C2: I don’t know what to tell you. Looks like we won’t have waffles.
C1: (with intensity) Oh, we’ll have waffles. Mark my words — there WILL be waffles.
I just about died. FROM SHEER DELIGHT. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears of mirth, and across the room, I found myself sharing an incredulous look with a girl I’d never met before, who was also repressing terrific laughter over this waffle-related uproar. (She and I became great friends, obviously.)
I ask you. Where else would an exchange like that even happen? I’ll tell you where. Stars Hollow.
Okay okay okay, I’m NOT saying Steinbach is a carbon-copy of a beloved fictional New England town. No, no, no, no, no. Remember? I said that I’m not delusional about this.
What I’m trying to say is, viewing all those quirky town-meeting scenes in Gilmore Girls has given me quite the appreciation for my own community.
As I walk down Main Street on my way to work, I have encountered:
Tina from Tina’s Alterations, out in front sweeping the snow, calling out, “Good morning, Erin!” (Incidentally, she is the second Tina to own this particular business. For a while both Tina’s were there. It was great.)
Wendy the florist, upon seeing me, darting out to hand me a beautiful daisy. (I will never forget this. So delightful!)
Our adorable lending officer, emerging from the dry cleaners, upon seeing me, asking with great concern as to why on earth I’m walking — because we’d just gotten a car loan, so is there something wrong with our car? (No, there wasn’t — I just like to walk.)
Norma the librarian arriving for work as I walk by, stopping to chat with me because I’d gone to high school with her daughter and I’d say we’re still friends (right, R?).
Many lovely ladies who compliment me on my hats.
I have many more encounters than these too… but these are the ones that are on my mind right now. Altogether all of this casts my little town in a cozy glow in my mind.
Yes, I’ve seen grander cities. And I also see the hometown flaws… but I see the good too. I love you, Steinbach.