How many times have we heard it before? I know its been the plot of too many movies to count and I bet we can all name AT LEAST one person we know that has said something along these lines. "I just can't wait to get out of here. When I (insert event) Im moving away from here".
It may be a turning 18, going to college, getting married, or starting a new job. Whatever the reason some people just can't wait to leave their hometown. They may want to find their own identity, get away from all of their siblings, or maybe an ex high school sweetheart? Perhaps they just want to experience the excitement of the big city. Whatever the reason, it seems to pose the question, are all hometowns really that bad?
It's a common storyline. Teenagers who grow up and want to get away to see the big city, become their own person, and find their way..... on their own. They just can't wait to leave what they know for something new. While there is certainly understandable and there are so many benefits to truly experiencing the freedom of being on your own in a big city, I think along the way we have fallen victim to the "grass is greener on the other side" mentality. Somehow what we have is less and what other people have is more. The idea that the big city is better than small town living. But, Im here to beg to differ. Small towns offer their own unique qualities that big city living can't give. I just moved into my third house in my third city and one of those included my hometown. Here is what I've learned through these experiences and along the way.
When we moved to Houston it was easy to become homesick. We were eight hours away from home. We traded in "mom and pop" restaurants for sky scrapers and speciality coffees. We had every play, performance, or retailer at our fingertips and we were excited and slightly overwhelmed. The majority of the people we met weren't from Houston and one of the things local people would jokingly say was "Why did you move to the armpit of Texas?" I thought that was kind of a funny analogy considering it was in the curved part at the bottom of Texas, but Houston had so much to offer. I was surprised that several people felt that this was the "armpit of Texas". Apparently everyone dislikes where they are originally from. (insert grass is greener on the other side analogy)
Houston had friendly people, unlimited shopping, and some of the best Spanish food Ive ever had in my entire life, but we loved to go home. All of a sudden that small town that people couldn't wait to leave took on a whole new feeling best described as a "Hallmark feeling". Don't get me wrong, I loved Houston, but I also loved lazily walking around downtown through all of the local shops and having the feeling of familiarity. Main Street Market gumbo and Walnut Hills fried chicken was a MUST when I was home and if I got REALLY lucky there would be a pie left over from all of Mrs. Sally's holiday baking orders for me to take to Christmas. We enjoyed our time at home for the holidays and then would go back to enjoy the city.
Years later we made a career move back to Vicksburg, Mississippi and that hallmark feeling town became home. I had been away for so long in many ways I felt like a stranger in my own hometown. We were asked a time or two (or maybe ten)... WHY would you move back here??????? It was the same story as Houston. People want to know why you left what you had for your current location. Our moves have all been career moves and we have enjoyed each place and surrounding areas along the way. We quickly adjusted to small town living. We opened a private hair studio in downtown and bought a house in the suburbs. We made it our home. What it lacked in nightlife options it made up for in local stores and authentic Southern hospitality. In contrast to every chain imaginable in Houston, it made up for in "mom and pop" shops. Every morning I went to my favorite coffee shop, 61 Coffee, to pick up my large, no sugar added, Mojo. Its the same thing as a frappe, but it's AH-MAZING. It makes chain frappes
seem tasteless. Its still my favorite drink to this day. They knew me by name and knew my order. I would see local residents and business owners gathering every morning and sometimes even the mayor. I would drive to my little studio a few blocks down afterwards and start my day. It was basically the equivalent of a Hallmark movie, but in real life. I loved it, and felt like some people just didn't know what they had. Although I missed the big city I found things I loved about living in a small town. When my husband was offered a job and we decided to make a move to a new state I was curious of what awaited. Big city? Little town?
But we soon found out we would get the best of both worlds. We ended up settling in a small community outside of Memphis, TN made up of mostly neighborhoods. We are only about 15 minutes from downtown Memphis. We met an older couple a few weeks back that have lived here their entire life and one of the first things the lady said was "Why did you move to the armpit of Arkansas?" I couldn't help but chuckle and think to myself how is this a saying everywhere??
Your hometown or big city is what you make it. Sometimes we don't see all of the great things we have right in front of us until we experience other cities or towns. Sometimes we fall in love with our own hometown and sometimes we fall in love with our new "hometown" and that's okay too. Life is what you make it no matter where you live and you have to take advantage of what you have available to you. It could be a small farmers market filled with local produce, parks filled with history, beautiful views, or every restaurant known to man. Every town is somebody's hometown and every town has something special to offer. We just have to make a point to get out and enjoy it! I challenge you to be a tourist in your own town. Take advantage of the cooler weather to get out and explore, eat, shop, and visit all of the "local" spots. I challenge you to fall inlove with your "hometown" again, wherever that may be.