I’m going home today. Home being the small town where I grew up and where my family still lives. I moved away almost three years ago, and for a while I visited about once every seven months (it just worked out that way), but I haven’t been there in a year. I’m excited for a visit.
While I’m very glad I left and got out into the world a bit. (And just a bit — there’s still so much I need to see and do.), I’m also glad I grew up there. Less than 2,000 people live in my hometown. I know of one place that has wireless (fortunately it’s one of my favorite places anyway) and cell phone reception will be spotty at best.
In such a small town, it’s easy to feel like you know everyone. I actually know whom I would have married had I stayed — not due to overwhelming attraction, but because we were close the same age, both reasonably intelligent and attractive, and had a lot of mutual friends, both personally and through various generations of our family. He left too, but had either of us wanted to stay there wasn’t really anyone else to date.
Small towns like that are stereotyped as narrow-minded. Some probably are, but mine wasn’t. Stupidity and laziness would make you a pariah, but working hard and being kind would get nearly anything forgiven. I’ve always been fat and I’ve never shaved or wore a bra or make-up; you’d think I’d have been an easy target, but instead I was treated like a valued member of the community. I might have been a bit odd, but I was their oddity and in a lot of ways I still am.
John Mellencamp sums it up nicely:
No I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be
I’m going home, and while I have no desire to stay, I’m glad it’s home.