Moving to a New Small Town
You have heard the saying “big fish in a small pond?” Well, how about “new fish in an old pond?” My husband and I grew up in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia where I am related to a good portion of the county, and he is related to the rest. Everybody knows everybody because everybody is “from” there. I went to college a mere 45 minutes away, so up until eleven years ago, I had never really gone more than a week or two without seeing my family and visiting my hometown.
When my husband, Brian, got the opportunity to pastor Lighthouse Church in Hampton, SC, we found ourselves trading mountains for low country. We left the small town where we grew up to move to a small town where we knew no one. In our new town, everybody knew everybody because everybody was “from” here. Except for us. I soon realized I did not know how to do this. I had always been friends with people I grew up with. After all, cousins are automatic playmates and lifelong friends. Holidays overflow with family, and everybody knows who is brining what to dinners. I had never had a holiday away. Our first holiday away was Easter and it was dreadful. I had also never experienced a low country summer. So, by July I was pretty much withering. I was lonely and hot, so hot. In my heart I wanted to love my new town, but I cried a lot that summer, because I just wanted to go HOME.
Then something happened. Gradually, we started connecting with other families. We started finding our favorites and frequenting local businesses. We fell in love with our hometown festival, the arts, and our church family. I realized that perhaps I had been closed minded, that maybe folks in this small town were just like folks in my small town growing up. I started stepping outside my comfort zone to get to know the people around me and what my community had to offer. Local restaurant owners started recognizing us and said hello when we walked in their businesses. We were invited to cookouts and game nights with other families from our church. I joined a ladies’ prayer group and got to really connect to other women in different phases of life. We eventually transformed from visitors to locals.
Eleven years later, I love highlighting the beauty and the opportunities the low country offers. I love our HOT summers but even more I love our mild winters. Our oldest child has lived more than half her life in Hampton. Our family has added two sons and two sons-in-law to our tribe. Now we get to watch our grandchildren grow up in this town that has adopted us.
It is hard being new. So, I hope to do all I can to make it a little easier on the new folks I encounter. I can wholeheartedly say that I love Hampton County more than I ever thought possible.