Friday, July 29, 2011

The Magic City

There's a quickly growing group on Facebook tonight. "You know you grew up in..... when...." Members are posting memories of my hometown and everyone seems to be having the greatest time reminiscing. I've spent a good hour laughing at some of the posts and thinking, "Oh, I remember that". There are posts about hometown landmarks--official and otherwise. Posts about hometown legends--some true, some supernatural myths. There are memories of teachers, the towns' characters, radio shows, favorite pizza places, and the various ways we all enjoyed our childhood.

Perhaps everyone believes their hometown to be special; I'm not sure. But I do know that after being blessed in an affluent community during my 18 years there, my hometown has had its share of hard times in the last few decades. It has greatly struggled after the closing of its mill, the financial backing for the town. Having been born and raised in my hometown, I sometimes wonder whether it's special to me only because I grew up there? But it surely seems to be a remarkable place. Like someone pointed out tonight, it was a town where you could walk or bike anywhere safely. You could dial just four numbers to reach anyone in town. You could find a convenience store at any corner or within any development. You could somehow find something fun to do every night even though there was supposedly "nothing to do" in that town. As someone wrote, "Lots of good memories. No wonder I thought it would all last forever".

I married when I was just a few months shy of my 21st birthday. My husband, who had moved to my hometown when he was in 8th grade, does not have quite the same hometown memories as I do, as he spent much of his childhood in another part of the state, but it is nice that having lived there for five years, he knows the town pretty well. My husband and I love telling our children about our years there. We spend a few weeks there each summer and although we're usually "upta camp", we always make a few trips into town, driving around our old neighborhoods and telling our stories.

We moved to the southern part of the state when we went to college and both of us can now say that the community in which we now live, is the town where we've spent the most number of years. (We'll have lived here for 20 years this coming January)! But I have always been very proud to tell others where I grew up. I've met so many people who have a connection to my hometown that at times it's as though I'm playing a version of that game, "The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon". When people hear where I'm from, it seems as though there's always someone they know that they ask me about, or else we talk of a particular place they've visited. Coworkers, students, or people from my present community are quick to brighten up at the name of hometown. Yes, I wear "Where I am from" with great pride.

I am grateful for the town that raised me. I try to get back there as often as I can. It's a town I never want to let go. I hope it will forever hold me close. There was one post in particular on this new group tonight that made me tear up. One post that made me want to write about my hometown tonight. "Thank you everyone for the memories and for reminding me that where I came from is why I am who I am..God bless". I could not have said it any better.

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