I’ve never been one of those people who couldn’t wait to escape their home town the moment they graduated high school. I liked where I grew up. I thought it was all I would ever need. It turned out I was wrong, and that to get my career started I would need to leave for someplace bigger.
Since then I’ve come to see some of the failings of my home town. I’ve watched it remain largely static while other towns in the region have grown. It’s still a good town.
But it took my kids to remind me of what’s cool about where I was raised. I took my kids for a quick tour of some of the important sites from my youth while we were there last time, and I was a bit surprised by how interested they were. My middle child loved the railroad yard. He thought it was totally cool that there were freight trains being assembled, split up, and hauled off to other destinations, and could have watched it all day.
My daughter suddenly wants to go to college at my alma mater. She was impressed by how big it was. They all enjoyed the Museum of Clean and the Model Railroaders Club open house we took in while we were there. They had fun playing with cousins (and their uncle, who has much more Poké-patience than I do).
When I look at my home town I see what’s changed. I see my neighborhood becoming increasingly run down. I see businesses that have closed their doors, and even though new businesses have moved in, it seems wrong somehow. I see a town that “almost was”, but never quite got there.
My kids don’t see that. They have no idea how it used to be. They only see the cool things that are there now. It’s refreshing. It’s good to remember that freight trains are cool, that universities are exciting, and that history is worth something. You can go home again, but it’s best to take your kids with you.