In the year of 1986, my family moved to a small town in the eastern boarder of Arizona. At that time the town of St. Johns had a population of approximately 4000 residents. Saint Johns was established in 1871 when the Saints joined with the Hispanics. St. Johns is the county seat and is supported by two major power plants that drive its economy.
Looking back on my life I realize how great it was. I remember riding my bike to the snow cone shop with my best friend when we were six years old. It didn’t seem like a big deal back then, but as an adult I now realize that the snow cone shop was a two mile ride, half of which was on the main street.
As I grew older I had some amazing opportunities that most kids don’t get to have. I was blessed to have a horse that I could ride anytime. I was able to be a member of some amazing organizations such as 4-H and other local rodeo associations. These programs played major roles in the foundation that built the person I am today.
In high school you could find me and my small band of brothers out on a ranch with a bonfire blazing. This is where we learned how to blow things up. We all hung out with classic country music blaring while telling our war stories and jokes. With our fast trucks and fireworks, we sure tested the patience of the local men in blue. We were found trying to impress the girls, to no avail, with what we thought was some good, smooth talking country boy schemes. We knew our limits between God and Law; we feared them both.
There is a fine line between good and bad in a small town and it is very easy to cross either line. When you grow up in a small town you encounter peer pressure from good and bad influences. In my experience, I became who my friends were. I had friends on both sides of the fence. A group of friends who liked to party and drink and another that walked right with God. It is amazing to me I found myself wanting to impress the friends that did right. This pushed me to make good decisions when times came.
Living in a small town I always had people that would stand up and defend me when I needed them. I learned this in the fall of 2007 when I found myself in a life or death situation, after I was involved in a traffic collision. People I had known my entire life was doing everything in their power to keep me alive. They all came together to keep me alive and on this earth; with all my fingers and toes working in working order. It was then I realized how amazing my small town was.
I have tried several times to leave this small town, but it has a hold on me. When it came down to it, I just couldn’t go. For some reason I am meant to be a part of this small town. This is where I would like my kids to grow up and make memories of their own. I understand that times have changed and our little “Mayberry” town isn’t what it once was. I probably won’t let my kids ride their bikes to that same snow cone shop when they are six years old. Though, regardless of the changes, I can tell you that I still believe in small towns and in the great opportunities they give the youth to gain their own experiences.
Now that I am older I feel like it is my duty to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I love that I have the opportunity to give back to the kids in the 4-H program. I think it’s ironic how the pages have turned, now I am the one in blue getting my patience pushed to the limits from a new band of brothers trying to learn their way through life. I truly believe that the only life for me is the small town life.