The Upside & Downside of Living in Sierra Vista
The upside of living in a small town is also the downside of living in a small town.
I recently got a letter from my doctor’s office. It was a personal form letter from the Physician's Assistant I’d been seeing for nearly 15 years. The letter talked about the joy she’d had in serving her patients’ medical needs for years and she thanked us for our trust. She closed the letter with the news she’d be retiring in the Spring.
I put the letter down and sighed. This was the third letter I’ve received like this in the last three years. I had to take a beat and fully process what I’d just read. I wanted to be happy for her, but I was sad to lose someone I'd grown to trust.
Big City Roots, Small Town Heart
I’ve lived in the shadow of many major cities across the United States while I was growing up. From suburban Chicago, to outside Philadelphia, to the Inland Empire outside of Los Angeles - all major metropolitan areas, especially compared to Sierra Vista and other cities in Cochise County.
If the citizens living in these megalopolises only had one Walmart or one Target in their entire area, they’d lose their minds. But life is different in Cochise County. If you want to go to the OTHER Walmart, you drive 30-plus miles to Benson or Douglas.
We’re used to having one of each of these stores, and we’re accustomed to running into friends and neighbors in the cereal aisle, stopping for a short chat to catch up on life.
We develop relationships with the people we do business with. The clerk at Safeway who was pregnant a few months back? She went to preschool with my kid. Every time I see her, she shows me photos of her son.
My primary care doctor’s children went to grade school with my daughter. My dental hygienist adopted one of our puppies a couple of years ago. Oh, and she’s been one of my best friends for years. The woman who runs my veterinarian's front office is like a sister to me, we've been friends for so long.
In our still relatively small town, we form connections with each other. There are connections even if we have a purely professional relationship and we only visit once a year during an annual appointment. When my eye doctor of 30 years retired, we were genuinely sad, but we got to say a proper goodbye. We are still friends with his staff, even though they’ve gone onto other jobs. We still keep in touch with them their families, often while waiting in line at Target.
So when I got the letter relaying the news my PA was retiring, I had mixed feelings. I loved the level of caring she'd always showed our family and I wondered if I would ever find anyone as kind. She listened; I didn’t have to tell her a back story, because she remembered. However, I’m also happy for her retirement and wish her all the best as she opens her next chapter of life.
That’s the upside and the downside of living in a smallish town. In spite of the bittersweet goodbyes, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I picked up the letter from my PA one more time, and considered it a moment longer. In spite of the fact it was sent to all her patients, it had a warm, personal quality to it. One more wonderful, yet bittersweet, reason Sierra Vista is the best place I’ve ever lived.