Murray, My friend.

In 2012, Murray, KY, was named the friendliest small town in America. I am here to say that it was much deserved.

They are sweet as pie here; they really are. (I’ve gotten so used to smiling at strangers that when I was back in Chicago on the El two weeks ago, I creeped out some passengers. I stared deep into their eyes, with a most sincere smile on my lips, and waited for them to return the same. They either looked away or moved a seat over.) It goes much farther than smiling at strangers here. EVERYBODY waves. Most people say hello. They actually wait to hear how you are doing after asking the usually-rhetorical question. Backing out of a parking spot one day, I noticed that the woman next to me was also attempting to back out. I was expecting her to rev her engine and make a backward dash. Instead, she motioned to me that she would wait. Then she smiled a big, dear smile. Then she rolled her window down to ask, “How ya doin’…?” before wishing me a good day. It was like a 5 minute interaction. Their friendly is so friendly that you can hardly get shit done.

But it has been to my benefit, for sure. That first time I got pulled over, the cop just ever-so-slightly suggested I turn on my lights. The second time I got in trouble with a cop, I was gently asked to stop listening to my headphones while driving and to please go the correct direction down the one-way street. He even called me ‘Sweetheart’.

And here’s the thing:

Because of all of this kindness and love swirling about — I’ve actually become more of a sweetheart! I’ve stopped scowling so much, and un-furrowed my brow. I’m not scared of your reprimand — because it’s not coming! Or… at least not in a cruel fashion…!

I feel free. Free to be me. I have discovered that I’m actually quite nice! It’s just that usually, when I gauge that someone else may be prepping for attack, I try to beat them to the punch. Show my teeth a little, you know.

But not here. Nah. They’re unassuming and so…so am I. It feels really good.

I hope that I can take this new, friendlier persona of mine with me when I go. I’d love to be the kind of creep that smiles too heartily, says hi too much and starts a damn conversation when you are just trying to get the hell out of the parking lot.

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