I grew up in this small town of about 15,000 people. We moved here when I was five, just before the twins were born. Nearly every childhood memory I have takes place in this town. I spent most of my teenage years screaming about getting out of this town as quickly as I could the moment I turned eighteen. The smallness made me feel smothered. Everyone here pretty much knows everyone else. Small towns are famous for residents who are all in each other's business and this place isn't any different.
In my younger years I thrived here. Our Catholic school was small so we got the best education to be had here. We had a neighborhood full of kids so there was always someone to go outside and play with. It was safe enough here for us to take off on our bikes and ride around all day. Those were the days before cell phones and pagers. Our parents didn't worry about us. The rule was that we were not to leave the city limits and had to be back by dark. We were everywhere around this town. It is actually still that safe here. :-)
The downside to this town is there isn't much for teenagers to do except ride around making "the loop". I wish I had a dollar for everytime I drove "the loop". I'd still be making money because I can't help but drive it every time I return. [vbg] There's no industry here either so it's hard to keep kids here once they graduate. I certainly had no intention of staying here once I finished high school.
I went to college about 45 minutes from here and that lasted a year and a half. I got tired of school quickly and instead of striking out on my own to a big city somewhere, I came back home. I got my job with the Sheriff's Office and ended up staying there seventeen years before I moved off to a "big city".
When I left here finally I was thrilled. I was doing what I always said I was going to do. I headed off to a city of about a quarter million and reveled in anonominity. But anonominity can only get you so far. I slowly realized that I missed going to Wal Mart and knowing half of the folks there. I missed being personal friends with the Mayor, the Sheriff, and the District Attorney. I missed being invited to social events at the museum and being involved with the community theatre. I missed being recognized.
Now I revel in coming back here for a quick visit. E rolls his eyes when I insist upon driving uptown to see what has changed and what has stayed the same but I just ignore him. There is a Cajun restaurant here that serves boudin and fried chicken that I must eat at when I get to town. I ate there every now and then when I lived here but now it is the taste of my hometown. My mom and I just rode through a new subdivision and had a blast trying to figure out who was buying the property out there and what they were going to do when it floods again like it did about 38 years ago. [vbg] We rode by my old house that I built in 1986. The trim is now sky blue and I had a huge laugh over that one.
It seems as if everytime we come here something has changed or something is new. I was amused to see that a classmate of the twins is now running for City Council. But as much as this town changes, it also remains the same and that's a huge comfort to me. This town is no longer the place I'm running from. Now it is a place I come running to when I need to see my parents or just be in my comfort zone. While I doubt I'll ever want to live in another small town, I'm no longer afraid of being swallowed up by this one. Instead it has become a source of peace and I like that.