Tuesday, April 7, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: FADKOG: Dorothy had it right, and this is where I hang my hat

Our next guest blogger is known as FADKOG, which stands for For a Different Kind of Girl. I discovered FADKOG on Twitter and her tweets, as well as her blog are hilariously funny. Please welcome her!

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When my family moved to the Iowa town I grew up in, my world was a three-block radius. It was the circle around which I'd ride my bike for hours, where neighborhood kids would meet to play kick ball until dark, and where, every Wednesday, I'd endure every feasible weather condition or barking dog to deliver the weekly advertising circular. Those three blocks represented the place I felt safest (despite the vicious dogs) and most welcomed. It was a short journey from my block - the filling in the neighborhood sandwich between the other two blocks - to school or the convenience store we'd visit on late summer afternoons to purchase orange snow cones, but it felt vast.

Aside from time spent in college and several years working as the editor of a community newspaper, I've never truly ventured very far from those three blocks. Today, I'm raising my own family a mere two minutes - though sometimes it can take three depending on the occasional confused motorist who pauses uncomfortably long at the five-way stop sign up the road - from the front door of my present home to that of my childhood home.

Unlike the other places I've lived, I've always felt at home where I now reside. Always. Although my hometown - which often dominates the top of any "Fastest Growing Communities in the Nation" lists - is vastly different from the place I remember growing up, when I say I'm from here, it feels familiar, and to me, familiar means comfortable. Three big-name grocery stores dot the landscape where, years ago, residents had a difficult time supporting even one small, family-owned market. The library, which once operated from a tiny room in the back of an equally tiny city hall building, now host programming in a large facility with a parking lot that is always full.

Today, more houses are cropping up on what was once sustainable farm land than actual crops, and just when I think developers can't possibly come up with any new names for a multi-dwelling subdivision, up pops a Painted Woods or Something That Always Ends With The Word 'Pointe With An E.' Trying to give directions to someone unfamiliar with my hometown is virtually impossible for me because there are so many new streets and so many new names for them that I'm almost as lost as they are. If it's not part of the "old part of town," (which is what the area I grew up in is referred to now), I'm sorry. Good luck on your journey!

Yet it still feels like home.

My youngest son is finishing his first grade year in the same building where I attended elementary school, and though countless revisions have been made to it, walking through it is like zapping through a time warp and there's the kindergarten classroom where we incubated chicken eggs in the spring. Except now it's the computer lab! My oldest son, a middle school student, plays basketball in the same gymnasium where I ran laps as a student, only when I was a student in that particular building, I was attending high school and preparing to graduate with a class of 62 students I'd been going to school with since kindergarten. When my sixth grader graduates in 2015, he'll be crossing the stage with more than 600 classmates who filter into our district from the surrounding suburbs. Very few of them will have known each other from the days when they were learning how to write their names and navigate the vast hallways of a new building.

This is home.

From time to time, I'll drive around my hometown, and in my mind, I can distinctly see the games we played on the streets I'm driving on. There's the house where my best friend and I sat on the front steps and talked about the boys who traveled in packs on mopeds and played basketball in the driveway over there each night after dinner. On this street is the house we'd all meet at when the sun went down and we'd sit outside on the patio, watching movies on a tiny television that had been dragged outside.

When I take my boys to the park, it's the same park where I barreled my orange Huffy 10-speed down the hills. When we get there, the boys will swing on the same set of squeaky swings my best friend and I used to cut through the air on. I'll sometimes mention these memories to my sons, both as a means of connecting my life with their respective childhoods, and perhaps planting the idea that it's important to remember where we came from. I don't know that their goals will keep them near me here, but I hope no matter where they go, no matter what fancy named subdivision they may one day live in, they feel the sense of home I'm struck by when they think of what is now our shared hometown.

21 comments:

Dana's Brain said...

There's kind of a running Rhode Island joke that if you are from here you either never leave, or you leave and come back. Which is what I did. Two towns over from where I grew up, but I often get the same vibes you are describing. It's a pretty special kind of feeling.

Great post!

Kat said...

I get this feeling around my hometown, (even though I did most of my growning up away from there), because I spent every single summer at my grandmothers house. I am kind of sad that my kids won't have the same experience I did growing up there, but I try to look at all of the benefits that military life will have for them in the future.

Chris Wood said...

Home never changes for me. It's always Manchester, in some form.

Under the Influence said...

This sounds a little like my hometown. I don't live there anymore, but my parents do, and when I visit I can see the changes but also see how it used to be.

Mary Ellen said...

There's something about a small town, even when it's becoming a big town. Great post.

Cocotte said...

I'm no longer in my hometown, but when I return, it saddens me to see the farmland is gone, replaced by Wal-Mart and the like. Is anywhere safe from these mega-giants??

kaila said...

Wow you just made me so incredibly homesick that I think I want my mommy. *sigh*

Linda said...

My hometown has taken the exact opposite turn that yours has. Now, the store, bank/barbershop, cafe, locker plant, and lumber yard are all closed and many of the buildings razed.

It's sad to see a place near and dear to my heart become a ghost town.

Legallyblondemel said...

I hail from suburban sprawl (albeit one with great beaches), so I can't totally relate, but I really like this post. Nice to see a different FADKOG side.

Desmond Jones said...

Hey, nice to see you here!

This post evokes some very fond memories for me of my own growing-up years, in a small city Up North. My buddies and me taking off on our bikes, going 'exploring', or just hanging out at the beach, or whatever other small-town-up-north things there were for us to do.

Alas, I have never lived there since I left high school (and since my grandmother died, I rarely even get back there, except for class reunions); I miss it. And, as you describe, even going back there, many of the places I remember either aren't there, or have morphed into some barely-recognizable new shape.

But a part of my soul was formed there, and will always live there. . .

Sailor said...

Great post; made me think back to growing up in the Midwest, and how much I still miss it.

MereCat said...

That made me think about how I now live two houses away from the house where I grew up, and what has changed here. Even though I live in a big town, the part where I actually spend my time feels like a small town to me, and it has changed so dramatically.

Great post! Thanks for giving me pause for reflection.

Kathy B! said...

How wonderful for you to be living in the town where you grew up! We moved around as a child and I haven't been to any of those places in probably 15 years!

I would love to take my children to the park where I played as a child.

So many memories, new and old, intertwined together...

Christina Lee said...

yeah-FADKOG- great post as usual!!!

Peggy said...

I feel ya! I bought the house I grew up in from my parents! My kids go to the same school I did...I still have the same neighbors I had when I was growing up (they won't move...so stubborn!) I have a strange sense of complacency about all of it...it's familiar and safe for sure but I often wonder where else I could have wound up? In the end, I guess this is just where I'm supposed to be.

steenky bee said...

My hometown was smallish, but I never felt the same sense of community like you did from your experience. My husband and I have purposely decided to raise our children in a small town. Going to the big city holds magical promise for them as it still does for me.

Bee (the one who muses) said...

It was as if you were describing my little town in California, "The library, which once operated from a tiny room in the back of an equally tiny city hall building-" only our library is still there.

Great post FADKOG!

San Diego Momma said...

I loved that. I lived in a similar town near Chicago when I was growing up and I miss that hometown feel. I'd sure love my kids to experience the same thing.

Great memories.

Always Home and Uncool said...

As I guy who left his Northeastern hometown then moved back to live a whopping six minutes from where he played endless imaginary games of solitary baseball in his parents backyard, I know exactly what you mean. Now only if I could bleach those first few years of growing up in Texas memories out of my own kids' heads ...

iMommy said...

My hometown growing up wasn't that small but I can definitely relate. I am living one town over from the town I've spent my whole life... every park, store, street is rife with memories.

The Stiletto Mom said...

I think that is wonderful that you love your hometown enough to stay there. I've always lived in Dallas, just not in the same area bc the area I grew up in is pretty dangerous now. We go back there every once in a while for events at my old school or church and drive by the house, it brings back so many memories and I love showing my history to my kids.