One of the best feelings in the world is to be in your hometown where people know you. When Dad died, we had many people who gave us so much support. Mom and I were overwhelmed by the unconditional love people bestowed on us. What amazes me is that when you leave your hometown to explore the world and forge your destiny, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world; your hometown will always be a part of your roots.
Growing up, I have the recollection of two hometowns. The first is in Carthage, NC. A part of me will always have a strong connection since I spent the earliest years of my life there. The Southern Pines area in North Carolina is notorious for golf. That sport is one that I never could get into, no matter how hard I tried. When I was six, my parents moved to a town just outside of Greensboro, NC. My mom told me once that the gnats drove her out of Carthage, and as I got older, I understood why she felt the way she does. The first couple of nights I slept in my bed, I could hear the planes fly directly over the house. It felt like I would have company in my bedroom because the aircraft flew so low that I would have sworn they were going to crash. It took some getting used to because the house would shake, and the light fixtures above me would rattle from the noise’s intensity.
There are benefits to hometowns. If you are from a small hometown, most people know each other in the community. This connection can be a blessing and a curse intertwined into a frustrating and confusing ball of yarn. If a relationship goes south, things can get awkward fast. Just about the whole town might know the folks involved and choose which side they will support. A few places remain in the world where people don’t have to lock their doors at night, but those places are becoming few and far between.
If any of you remember the show “Cheers,” you’ll recall how everyone at the bar knew one another. Those are the kinds of places that make me feel at home. Being in my hometown is like a comfortable blanket. Since I live in a primarily rural area, there is a lot of farmland that surrounds me. I’m able to walk with wide-open spaces, greet my neighbors and get the 4-1-1- on local festivities. I’m able to support local farmers and cook fresh foods. Every road I drive on, I know like the back of my hand. I hug those curves when driving down the streets and feel the car become one with the land. When I’m on the tractor, I cut the grass and feel freedom as the grass gets cut. I smell the fresh-cut grass and start sneezing like crazy but don’t care because everything feels fresh. Hometowns tend to make us all feel like we belong.
Hometowns all have various traditions and cultures. They instill roots within us that we may choose to leave behind, but we don’t always get our hearts entirely out of our system. Larger hometowns don’t always have the same feeling, but that doesn’t mean that larger hometowns are bad. When places vary in size, we have to remember that love has no measurement. Hometowns are a blend of various communities and cultures. The best part about them is that there are no right or wrong ways of savoring our hometowns.
At the heart of any hometown is people. Without people, there would be no homes where activity consistently occurred. Children wouldn’t grow up in towns; jobs wouldn’t exist; nothing would happen except the ugly growth of weeds and the takeover from wildlife.
COVID has changed everything for all of us. Many choose to live in fear of the virus and not partake in their hometown activities. Others decide to move forward but ensure precautions are enforced so that minimal exposure occurs. The most challenging aspect for all of us is keeping the connections going with each other.
No matter what your hometown may feel like, I hope you know that life doesn’t stop only in your hometown area. There is a big world out there waiting for you to discover. The key is to take the lessons you learned from your hometown community and make the world a better place. Who knows? Your hometown might be a small part of your past but can have an enormous impact on your future. Have a great weekend, everyone.