I've lived full-time in this small town, my hometown, for two years this month. When I returned to the place my parents chose to raise me, I didn't know how ratcheting down from city life would go because, 24 months ago, I was thinking about the big stuff: movie star sightings, excitement, new possibilities around every corner, bright lights. Somehow, as I followed the moving trucks north, I forgot -- or maybe never even knew about -- the importance of the small stuff.
Halloween was on Wednesday. I don't have a guess how many kids came to my door in the hours between 4 and 8 p.m., though that I went through 15 bags of candy gives an indication. The streets were teeming with children, all costumed and polite and friendly and respectful. One fellow, maybe 13, was wearing black pants, a black leather jacket, and a jaunty cap. I asked who he was supposed to be and he answered quickly, "An '80s reporter." Best laugh I had all night. Who needs a movie star sighting when you've got comedians right at your front door?
There's an angel in my neighborhood, someone who for the past few weeks has, early in the morning on trash day, carted my garbage can from the sidewalk and placed it near the back step. Part of me wants to get up early and peer out the window to see who it is. Another part, the one that will win this curiosity tug-of-war, prefers to wonder. In Yiddish, an unselfish and anonymous gesture is called a mitzvah. Thank you, whoever you are, for reminding me that a random act of kindness is plenty of excitement for me.
Finally, there are possibilities and corners. On a corner here in Sherburne, possibilities have been ignited. People from here and there and everywhere are raising hands and saying four little words: How Can I Help? Our quiet and historic Sherburne Inn will not be quiet for long because we live in a place where people care about their community. Soon activity will begin, windows will be scraped clean of vandals' paint, pigeons will be banished, and craftsmen and visionaries will step in with their skills. Plans are moving forward; come spring (if not sooner), restoration will begin.
I've come to discover that cities aren't the only places that are brightly lit. In this small place there is so much light: in our kids, in our kindness, and in the dazzling spirit of neighbors who will come together with heart and passion and dedication to turn the most meaningful of bright lights back on in a downtown institution.
I'm so glad I'm home.