Editor’s Note: Song lyrics denoted in bold italics.
Remember that time we talked about our hometowns? I find myself thinking about hometowns a lot, especially as I get older — you know, where we come from and how that place and the people in it shapes us into who we become.
John Mellencamp’s “Small Town“
And, at least in my experience, people tend to have a love-hate relationship with their hometown. When you’re young, you want nothing more than to get out and break free; the idea of being stuck in the same town for the rest of your life is surely a fate worse than death. Being an eternal townie is for losers, and you’re most definitely not a loser. You’re going places.
In my younger years, I used to think like that. I just couldn’t see myself living in my small Midwestern town forever. Well, that is, until I heard John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” for the first time.
Well, I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob’ly die in a small town
Oh, those small communities
But I’ve seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town
Married an L.A. doll and brought her to this small town
Now she’s small town just like me
Because when you grow up, you start to see things differently. The things that you used to hate have suddenly become a part of you. They’ve become part of the fabric of your life and they make up the chapters of your story.
No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be
Over the years — and especially since my father’s death — I’ve come to love my hometown and am so proud of the effect it’s had on my life. Everything that is important to me is in this town, and that is something pretty special, if you ask me.
Somehow, you always come home again. Not because you can’t make it “out there” or because you’re too scared to go anywhere else. No, no. You airways come home again because, at the end of the day, it’s the only place you belong. It’s the only place where you feel, well, you. And when really think about it, you realize you wouldn’t have it any other way. xoxo
I think staying in your hometown gets a bad rap. I've stayed in the same place for most of my life. And I wouldn't change it. I grew up running around NIU's campus, now my kids do the same. My family has been in this town a long time. My husband and I go to the church I went to my whole life, and now one of my high school friends is our priest. I'm still close to my seventh grade geography teacher, and now my kids are too. I've gotten to watch kids I babysat grow up and have kids of their own. Will we stay here forever? Maybe. Maybe not. But we're good here whether we do or not.