I’m in college. I love college. One of the beautiful things about college is that I’m on my own. Yes, being on my own means being away from home. So I guess you could say that, since I love being on my own, I love being away from home. I know, that sentence just sounds sort of cold. It was honestly a little bit difficult for me to type. But it’s true. I love being away from home. I love being in complete control of my life, going where I want to go, and doing what I want to do (yes, that includes staying up past bed time). It feels satisfying, like I’m really, truly taking charge of myself. In little kid terms, I feel like a grown up.
It doesn’t hurt that I’m not particularly fond of my hometown. There’s, well, there’s nothing to do there. It’s boring, and I don’t like it. The people are boring, the places are boring, everything is too damn boring. If you like sitting around doing nothing, maybe riding the occasional four-wheeler or observing the ever so frequent truck drive by with a Confederate flag bumper sticker (yes, those still exist), then Warren, Pennsylvania is the place for you.
At heart, I’m a city kid. I don’t know how that came to be, considering I grew up in hicktown, PA, but it is what it is. I need to be in a city. Badly.
But something weird happened recently. Something strange occurred that pulled against every fiber of my city being.
I went home this past weekend. My family’s in the middle of moving so I went back to help out. I was moving all of my stuff, all of my pictures, my clothes, my useless crap that seems to accumulate no matter how many times I throw things out. I went through everything that I had known, put it in boxes, and took it away. I ripped up my roots, right out of the ground. All of my memories were packaged up and taken to someplace new. My room, the place that I had carefully and painstakingly crafted to reflect my inner-self, was totally bare. Nothing was left. Everything was gone.
In the middle of all this, in the middle of this sort of deletion of my room and everything that it represented, I said to myself, “Dang, I kind of miss this place.”.
Yes, even I surprised myself when those words came out of my mouth. I mean, they didn’t come out of my mouth, they were in my head, so they came out of my brain mouth. Of course, brains don’t have mouths, but it’s a metaphor for…well, I think you get it.
I actually missed my boring, stupid, no fun, sucky hometown. I couldn’t help it. Something inside of me was contorting all of my feelings and emotions. It wasn’t me missing this place, it couldn’t be. Something was messing with my brain, screwing up my chemical balances. Some sort of alien. Yeah, that’s gotta be it. An alien. Like the one in those movies. What are they called? Can’t quite think of it….ohh yeah…Alien.
Of course, I’m just being dramatic. The fact is that I actually do miss my home town. Slightly.
Going through my room and packing up all of my stuff made me think of all the memories that I’ve created there. All the times that I’ve spent there. The times that I spent playing there as a kid. Playing with my best friends, my sister, my Mom, my Dad. All the trouble that I got into there. All the windows that I broke. All the rules that I broke. All the new stuff that I learned about. All of the books that I learned to read. All of the lies that I used to tell. All the new words I learned to say (most of them were four letters).
I thought about all of the growing up that I did there. All of the changes that I went through. All of the questions about life that I asked. All of the styles that I developed. The personality that I developed. All of the music that I listened to. All of the stupid-ass things that I did, but learned important lessons from. All of the deep talks with my Dad that I had. All of the journals that I kept. All of the songs that I started to write but never finished. All of the dreams I had that were just dreams. All of the times that I spent in love. All of the times that I spent with my heart broken. All of the times that I spent being me.
This all happened there, at my home. If I had been any other place, none of it would be the same. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. Where I’m from has undoubtedly shaped who I am and who I will become. My home has been one of the most important factors of my development as a person. My home, for lack of a better phrase, makes me me.
Maybe you don’t like your hometown either. Maybe it stinks. Maybe it stinks real bad. Maybe it’s boring like mine. Maybe you just plain old don’t like it. That’s totally understandable, and completely fine.
But just remember that, whether you like it or not, your home is what has made you the person that you are. Your home has shaped you in ways that you won’t even know about until you put all of your memories in blue, plastic, Rubbermaid containers and take them to someplace completely new. Your home has a huge impact on your personality. Your home is what makes you you.
So if you really dislike where you’re from, just think back for a minute about everything that you’ve done there. Think about who you would be if you had grown up somewhere else. Think about where you would be in life if you hadn’t grown up in the place that you did. Appreciate who you are now because of where you have been. Appreciate how your home has impacted your life.
Yes, I really don’t like my hometown too much. I make jokes about it all the time and I take advantage of any opportunity to talk bad about it. But at the end of the day, it really is important to me. My family’s there. My life’s there. I don’t know where I would be, or what I would do without Warren, Pennsylvania. After all’s said and done, I guess it’s not as bad as I make it out to be. It’s actually kind of a cool, little place. Alright, I’m stretching things a little, but I’m trying.
What I’m trying to say is the age-old adage that we hear time and time again but never really take the time to appreciate. Home is where the heart is.