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|