Friday, June 21, 2013

One Road Town

I was just thinking about this today for some reason, I've lived a lot of my life in one-road towns.

When I was a little kid in Lexington Massachusetts, our street went on forever (it was just a mile long according to Google Maps, but I swear, it went on for-ev-er!). My girlfriend (I fell in love with an older woman, I was five, she was six -any wonder that I write romance) lived way far away, about 3/4 of a mile on the same street. It was the only road I knew or cared about.

When I was six, we moved to a town that was literally a crossroads (had to leave my first love behind -though we are still in touch despite the decades [really no surprise that I write romance]). Cow towns in upstate New York are often defined by where two roads meet. I moved around a lot for a while, but one-road towns kept cropping up. Kingston, Washington (where I met and married the love of my life) has only one thru-street.(on which the one a big ferry boat poops out cars on every forty-five minutes shutting the town down until they're through). Then we moved to an island that had several roads, but only the one way on and off the island.

Now I live on the Oregon Coast where Highway 101 is the only north-south road for over a thousand miles along the coast. All people, all commerce, touch that one road to do anything. The post office, the super market, a bookstore...you always touch the one road that connects you to all others.

A one-road town is different from cities or even two-road towns. Walk the one road and you miss nothing. Almost all of the stores are there. Friends are along the streets, places familiar to return to and new ones to discover fresh. There is an easy familiarity quickly born of the one road and the connection that provides.

For me a book has always been a one-road town.

The obvious layer of the metaphor is the main road of the story, the little side streets that break off and the new ones that join. It's not just the chance to explore those adventures, both main street and side.

But it is the next aspect of it that I so enjoy. It's wandering down that thru-street on foot, slowing down enough to see the little surprises, to spend the time with the characters in their place and their story. It's that chance to sort of know the neighbors that I have found in so few cities and so many one-road towns. That's what I so enjoy in writing and in my many one-road home towns.

And the layer beyond that? For me, the one-road town is the place where you can nod hello to someone you don't know without them assuming you want something from them. Even in the modern, one-road town, there's a humanity too often lost. That piece is what I go looking for in every one of my stories.

my latest one-road-town romance



4 comments:

  1. LOVE this post. It strikes my heart in so many ways. I've lived most of my life in those one road towns and have known most everyone in the towns. Raised my three kids in one right here in southern Oklahoma. There's something about the pulse and heart beat that just draws a person in...maybe a writer even more so.

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  2. It surprised me when I thought about it and realized so much of my life had been spent in them. I'm always so intrigued when I find something else that has influenced my writing. Even if I'm not writing of the small towns, I'm trying to show the small towns inside the big ones.

    Makes me smile.

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  3. I used to live in a town so small, my PO box was 6. It shouldn't have surprised me since there were only 10 to begin with.

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  4. I have never lived in a one road town so I experience it through the writings of you wonderful authors. I look forward to reading the next exciting book in the Night Stalkers series.

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