Even though we live way out in the middle of nowhere with only a few houses on our street, the fact that this is a small, small town is becoming more and more apparent every day. To wit: Last Friday we had to drive to the local post office so I could send the federal government my life savings. In the parking lot is the car belonging to our neighbor from across the street. Sure enough, we get inside -- on line behind her -- and chat for a few minutes. "What a coincidence," Bryan and I muse on the way home. "Tra la la, how cute -- running into a NEIGHBOR at the POST office. Let's go frolic in our pasture and look at the duckies in the crick." Who cares, you're undoubtedly thinking right now. Neighbors EXIST. But wait, it gets way smaller -- or weirder, however you want to look at it.
On Saturday, we go into "town" for some odds and ends at the hardware store. Next door to where we get some caulk is a cute little antique shop. A woman in there is buying a table (we bought a cool old chair for 24 bucks). She starts talking to us and asking us where we live. People, when someone in the country asks where you live, they don't mean the county, the town or even the general vicinity. They mean your flipping ADDRESS.
Me: "Oh, we just bought a house in *."
Antique Shop Lady: "In *, huh? Whereabouts?"
Me: "Um....between * and *."
ASL: "Yeah but what street is that?"
Me: "Um....Old Coomer."
ASL: "Yeah, but what house is that?"
Me: "The yellow one about halfway down the block."
ASL: "Oh, how cute."
ASL: "You know, my husband's a plumber, so if you ever need one, here's our card."
Me (silently shocked): "Your husband fixed our toilet last week!"
Yep, that's right, we ran into our plumber's wife at the antique store. But the next part's the best.
ASL: "You know, I've always loved that area. Next time I'm down that way -- we live in Ransomville dontcha know -- I'll just stop by. I'd love to get a peek at the inside."
Me (puzzled and frightened): "How....nice!"
ASL: "See ya soon!"
Then YESTERDAY at the coffee shop that has the only Internet signal for miles around, this woman starts talking to me. Turns out she's the owner. Our conversation was very much the same as with ASL.
Coffee Shop Lady: "You just moved here? To where?"
Me (giving in): "In * on *."
CSL: "Oh yeah? My husband's sister owns a vineyard there and is opening a winery this spring."
Me (shocked): "You mean Ann? Yep, they live across the street from us."
CSL: "Well then you're practically family! I'm sure I'll see you around sometime!"
The weird thing about the city is that you're one among millions, and even though you're surrounded by people, you only interact with those you know for the most part. The weird thing about the country is you're one among only dozens. And whether Bryan and I like it or not, everyone and their mother in law now knows that we moved to a house in * on * -- and that our toilet broke on the first day we moved in. I get the distinct feeling that we're being watched.