This spring, after 20 years residing in the burbs of a state to our south, I moved back to my hometown in the Maine woods. It’s a vastly different place than I remember. The veneer mill is gone. The lumber mills are gone. Log trucks no longer rumble through town. Locals try to compensate for these losses by selling T-shirts and hats to people from away. It helps, a little.

The good news? The town is still the gateway to God’s Country, a place where you can open your front door and walk in Thoreau’s footsteps. In the village you can still borrow a book, sit on a park bench, rent a canoe, visit two museums, order a Slush Puppy, fill a prescription, attend a church service and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner — all within sight of the lake. I’m grateful for all of these truths. But most of all, I’m grateful for the people.

Before I share my story, a qualifier: I believe that people are the same everywhere. Bangor or Boston, Brunswick or Bakersfield — it makes no difference. And so, despite the occasional rumor to the contrary, there’s nothing in the water that makes the residents of my hometown especially friendly or kind. Indeed, I’ve known a few who were neither. But the people of my town are all special, and they’re special in a way unique to small communities: They’re inextricably connected to each other.

Counting the snowbirds, the population of my hometown hovers around 1,600, a number that has varied little for more than a century. Grow up in a town this size and you’ll know most people by name. You’ll know their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and classmates. All these people will know you, too. You’ll encounter each other at the post office and the hardware store, the grocery store and restaurants. You’ll attend the same church services, baked bean suppers and high school basketball games. Over the course of years, you’ll learn about each other through your intersecting lives. In a small town, everybody is a neighbor. The community makes the people, not the other way around.

Now, my story:

A week or two after relocating to my childhood home, I drove into town to run errands. I parked on Main Street and walked over to the bank to deposit a check, then stopped at the library to check email and the headlines. From there, I headed for the drug store to buy some postcards, only to realize en route that I didn’t have my wallet. Believing that I’d left it at home, I turned around and headed back to my car. (That I’d been to the bank only an hour before failed to cross my mind.)

On the way home, I stopped at a local convenience store and ordered a small veggie pizza. The store owner said it would be ready in about 35 minutes, say 4:30. “I’ll be back,” I said, “Gotta cruise up to the house and grab my wallet.”

I looked for my wallet on the kitchen counter, my desk, the dining room table and in the pockets of the previous day’s pants. No luck. Thinking it might have fallen onto the floor of my car, I went outside to have a look. I heard my cellphone chirping as I opened the door. I had a voicemail. The message went something like this:

“Hi Travis, this is Sierra at the bank. You left your wallet here. We’re closing in a minute, but rumor has it that you’re picking up a pizza at 4:30, so we’re sending your wallet over there.”

A man I had not seen for more than two decades found my wallet on the floor of the bank and handed it to the teller. This man had the presence of mind to telephone the convenience store where he recalled that I often stopped. When the store owner said I’d be back at 4:30, the finder of the wallet turned to the bank teller and offered to drop it off. The teller, in turn, started to ask the branch manager’s permission to hand it over, but the manager waved off the question. “Oh, that’s fine,” she said, “Go ahead.”

It’s good to be home.

Travis Wallace is a native Mainer, writer and recovering comedian. He lives by a lake in the woods and refuses to upgrade from his flip-phone.