Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There's no place like home

We all have our stories to tell about growing up. When I compare my memories with those of others, mine seem so much more colorful.

Judge for yourself: My recollections include awakening to snow piling up as it drifted in through ill-fitted windows, running away from home at age 5 to be discovered eating fried rabbit at the neighbor’s place a quarter mile away, biking by a neighbor’s front yard with the kid yelling “Sic her!” to what can only be called his free-range sow, gawking at a chicken running around like its head was cut off—well, because it was.  

Really, can yours compare?

When you’re raised on a farm and educated under the protective umbrella of a village school, one of three things most likely occurs. 1) You hate it. 2) You love it. 3) You grow up and consciously decide which parts to hate and love.

Behind door number one, you’ll find the fact that everyone knows your business appalling. You’ll become terrified of werewolves in the darkness. You’ll long for indoor plumbing so there’s no chance of encountering one of those werewolves. More than anything, you’ll want friends nearby and enough money to join band.

Behind door number two, you’ll find the fact that everyone knows your business comforting. You’ll love it that street lights don’t exist, yet you can sleep under a brightly lit sky. You’ll enjoy playing with your siblings and getting in the car every Sunday to visit cousins. You’ll fall in love with books.

I choose door number three. Concerning my school life, I went through phases. For the most part, I loved my teachers in elementary school, as well as my classmates. I don’t remember ever not wanting to go to school despite my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Loader, being a hundred years old and a little on the mean side. But then things got harder—not academic-wise but social-wise—all part of growing up, but not welcomed. As time went on, my feelings vacillated between love and hate. After having a particularly rough senior year, I graduated, yet bawled my eyes out at the graduation and halfway to adulthood. I think I was already aware of what I had missed by carrying grudges and what I would miss by leaving. 

People often hate their class reunions. I’m not one of them. While I’d never live on a farm again, I do think that small town living has its place and that nothing can quite compare.

Recently, I’ve gotten sucked into a Facebook group involving my hometown. I know very few of the 350 members but delight in their stories. Like me, they have some pretty colorful memories. And, to quote a famous farm girl, "There's no place like home."

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