If you were to look at a map of Texas, you probably wouldn't notice Littleton at all. It's not one of those places where a river runs through downtown, free to everyone, or where huge concerts take place or where there's even a top-ranked university. It's just a small town, kind of stuck on the outskirts of a big city, but emphatically not a suburb. It's its own place.
That's why I love Littleton. The rents are cheap and there's a big airport nearby, yes, and the air is clean and coyotes and foxes and various other small animals roam through downtown (somebody found a litter of bobcat kittens behind a bar a few weeks ago and turned 'em into animal control, who is rehabbing them and re-wilding them), and it's peaceful and bucolic. And it's determinedly independent.
There are trains that run through the middle of town, just two blocks from the courthouse, every night. And every night, pretty much, you can hear the train horns blowing in some new and interesting signature way that the guys who drive them have developed. Yes, it's policy that they blow a short-short-long prior to reaching a level crossing, but the engineers have ditched the computer-programmed horns for Littleton and do their own thing. At Christmas, they blow "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" rather than the usual signals.
The H.E.B. here (that's a local grocery chain) plays KISS and Ingrid Michaelson and the Bee-Gees over the speakers in the store. Rather than the usual boring "come get our chicken it's fresh between eleven and four and only a dollar ninety-nine" announcements, the staff say things over the PA like, "Is your life missing something? Do you feel empty inside? Try some CHICKEN! Fried or baked, it can bring new meaning to your existence!"
The Boyfiend's lawnmower was stolen last week and returned within three hours, thanks to the efforts of the local PD. Though they have pursuit cars and a bomb squad and a mobile emergency management truck, the officer still responded with "That sounds like Steve. Dammit. Steve needs to stop stealing lawnmowers" when he took the report. Despite technology, our PD is still small-town enough to be exasperated with the one crazy guy who makes a habit of liberating lawn equipment.
The city fathers decided to lock up the free public electrical outlets around the courthouse, but only after people started pitching tents there and setting up full-sized refrigerators that ran off the city's electricity.
We get the traffic from South By Southwest, but none of the other headaches. Bars that have live bands put up signs that say "OH MY GOD BECKY LOOK AT HER BOOKING" for that week. Gas is cheaper here, and the gas station is likely to have Mexican, Indian, or Korean home-cooked food for sale. The place I buy my beer smells of incense and kimchee.
There are four terrifying barbecue places where the meat melts off the bone and you're not advised to ask about preparation, and three terrifying Mexican places that have excellent strange salsas you've never tried before. Oh, and that little Japanese restaurant that will serve you amazing sushi if you shrug and say, "Whatever the chef wants; I'm not particular."
Soul food is cheap here. Grits are an option with everything. You can be literally thrown out of a bar, onto the street, on your ass, if you misbehave. Yet the patrons of the local gay bar will leave you alone if all you want is a beer and a book. There's a running club that meets at a local bar, three bike clubs (road, mountain, and casual), and a bird-watching group. There are two breweries and a dude who bottles home-made ginger ale and flavored seltzers. There's a soap company, two of those places that will sell you boxes of vegetables every month, and some guy who runs a barber shop out of his pickup truck and specializes in beards. Drag queens are an everyday sight. Nobody turns a hair at people of different/the same ethnicities/sexes holding hands in public. The library is one of the finest I have ever seen, and is enthusiastically supported by the locals. The city council is made up of a lawyer, a stay-at-home mom, a guy who runs the vegan restaurant, a history professor from one of Bigton's universities, some woman with oil and gas ties who is retiring this year thank God, and a couple of random business owners who want to legalize pot and skateboarding.
I was shopping today and had to do the excuse-me-I'm-in-your-way dance with a seventy-ish man in the soup aisle. It turned into a full-on dance-off and ended in a tango.
I love my town.