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Even the squirrels are welcoming

Between my hazy sleeping state and full consciousness one morning of my first week here, I awoke to a light tapping moving across my hip. After living with roommates for four years in college or with sisters at home, I had to remember where I was, and that in fact I had neither a roommate, sibling nor friend at my apartment.

But, my mind still wondered who was tapping me.

Opening my eyes, reality was much different than my thoughts. Actually, my thoughts would not have even wandered to what now was my reality.

Squirrel.

Gallivanting across my bedroom was a squirrel. Obviously, I shrieked with shock.

My surprise shocked my new visitor, who then bolted out from the room. Chasing after him, I could not locate the exact point of entrance and escape.

Apparently squirrels had been living in the front area of the building, but neither my landlord nor me would have expected one of them to jaunt inside.

My apartment building has been under renovation. After much damage to the roof in 2005 from Katrina, my landlord decided to restore the building.

Although it still needs small projects completed, it is a beautiful building and a spacious apartment.

My parents joked that this apartment is spoiling me because I might not ever find a place with so much space for such a great deal.

I have slowly been learning about life here. People have been welcoming and genuinely interested in where I am from and what brought me to their little town.

But the dynamic of small-town life that most surprised me is that people know who I am, even before I have met them.

The day I moved into my apartment here, my parents and I went to dinner.

The waitress asked us if we had ever eaten there before, to which I responded “No we haven’t. Actually, I just moved here today.”

I must have said small things about being new to the area during dinner because at the end of our meal, the waitress looked at me and said, “Are you the new reporter?”

Trying to hide the shock of my celebrity status, I smiled and said yes.

She then proceeded to tell me she knew the apartment I am renting and is friends with my landlord.

I had never met this woman before, and she already knew about me. Honestly, after the surprise wore away, I liked the idea that people know me already.

Now when people seem to know about me even though I have no recollection of meeting them, the shock value is wearing off.

Life in a small town is not what I have known before, but it’s definitely growing on me.

One of the things I look forward to most is sitting on my front porch. The front porch of my apartment is still under construction, but once it is finished, I will sit, wrapped in a blanket, looking out at the Spanish moss draping from the trees and the antebellum-style homes across my street.

The squirrel may have been living in the apartment for a while before I moved in, but I’m sorry, Mr. Squirrel.

This is my home now.

Laura Fenton covers education and general assignments for The Selma Times-Journal. She may be reached at 410-1744 or e-mail her at laura.fenton@theselmatimesjournal.com.