Monday, June 17, 2013

What's in a double take?

As bad as I am at keeping up with this blog, this is pretty bad that I’m a month overdue mentioning that I took the fiancĂ© back to Michigan.  My elder sister got married a month ago, and my significant other and I spent some time seeing some more sites around the ol’ stomping grounds in addition to attending the wedding.  This trip proved to be a bit more trying than the previous one, mainly because of the mosquitoes.  I hate mosquitoes, mainly because they love me so much. 

But being a tourist in my own hometown for the second time really gave me a chance to take an outside look at what I want for my future.  In many ways, it still has the same rural charm that I’ve always simultaneously loved and sprayed OFF! on me to keep at bay.  Cruising down the old roads, swerving and slowing down on some of the dicier gravel roads, or even just going to my nephew’s little league game.  Plus, the added bonus of seeing how the school has expanded and improved from when I was a student there.  Truly some great moments.  But whether it was the few adults who were acting inappropriate at said little league game, the fact that every business there plays the awful, awful country station for its patrons, or finding out that the newly elected county sheriff seriously considers extraterrestrial abduction as a plausible explanation for any missing person report (no joke, they won’t even let him speak at press conferences anymore, the deputy sheriff has to address the local news outlets), there’s just something that says either my hometown or I have changed too much to be compatible anymore. 

Strange as it sounds, I’d like to think it’s me that’s changed.  For starters, if you’ve had even a semi-happy childhood, your hometown will seem like Mayberry when you think back on your youth.  To notice these things now is to say that the world, or at least that corner of it, hasn’t actually gotten any worse, we’re just more aware of it now.  And to that end, we can say our parents did a good job of protecting us from these things long enough until we were able to absorb the brunt of these reality-dealing blows.  Some might actually call that bad parenting, but I disagree: it’s managing your own home environment to be as healthy as possible for the sake of those you love most, and sometimes that necessitates being the shield or filter.  So to that end, I can say that my parents did a great job raising me.  Not that I’ve ever thought any different, but I don’t suppose I’ve ever actually told them that.

More to the topic at hand, I’d like to think of this newfound incompatibility to be a sign of personal growth.  I don’t think I’m too good for my old hometown, although I’m certainly glad Mount Vernon’s chief of police doesn’t leave green cookies outside to lure Martians, and that the local supermarkets don’t play that ersatz country/Nashville pop while you’re shopping.  But overall, I’m not dismissive of it.  I don’t want to say it’s like outgrowing an old favorite shirt, but that’s kind of what feels like.  I’d like to think it’s not so much outgrowing the old hometown as much as just outgrowing the memories, though I’ll always cherish them.  Where this personal growth will take is anyone’s guess, so I guess I just gotta buckle up and survive the ride.

I’m not sure where I really want to settle down, though I’m pretty sure it’ll just be wherever the fiancĂ© is happiest living, or where the jobs are easiest to get.  As long as we’re happy there.  I guess a hometown is just what you make it.

And apologies to all the people who read this who are either older than me or have more established lives.  I don’t have funny or endearing stores of my children or really even much of a home life to share.  It’s either this or zingers from work that you had to be there to find funny, thickly laced with job jargon.