January 20, 2007
That is not me singing and strumming about his hometown, I wish I had some musical talent, but oh well. I thought it was apropos to the subject of the moment.
I wrote this a number of years ago. Nothing much has changed in the old hometown. It's showing a little wear and tear around the edges as most towns do when they must change from an industrial base to a service economy, but we are only one of many thousands of american towns that this is happening, or has happened to.
By Jim Kittelberger
"As soon as I'm old enough, I'm gonna blow this hick town." Sound familiar? As young adults, depending upon the scope of our dreams, we are proud of our birthplace or it hangs around our necks like the proverbial albatross. It is big enough to provide all that we desire in life, or we can't wait to break free at the first opportunity. It is friendly and open or it is suffocating and oppressive. It is nurturing or it is cold. It's possibly all of these or none of these. But for young adults, ready and anxious to try their wings, to chase their destinies, it is usually something they wish to escape from. It does not take a shrink to figure out the motivation for this, it's an attempt to establish identities, without the baggage or help of family names or connections. It's so normal. It could also be that we have no idea what we want to do, and we would rather flounder or flourish somewhere other than under our families' protection or criticism. I, for some, or none of these reasons, left my hometown and stayed apart for seventeen years. Now I am not going to say I set the world afire, but I proved to myself that I could compete and advance in that world away from my roots, as most of us do. But it never goes away, it may for periods of time be free of your thoughts, but then you will see something, read something, smell something even, that will remind you of your ancestral home, that place you could not get away from quickly enough.
A hometown, no, my hometown as it is said with a proprietary air, is a place storied in literature and movies as that one certain place that is familiar, unpressured, and welcoming. That place that knew you when. That place where someone knew your parents, your grandparents, connections that somehow validate your existence. That place where you were born and as you age that place above all others where it seems appropriate that you will die. In my case, it seems very likely that I will die in the same hospital where I was born, and instead of being a thought that makes you shiver, it seems right, appropriate, just the way it should be. A hometown accepts you when you enter the world, and will mark your passage when you leave, and someone will know that you have been here. What more can we expect?