I feel a bit like I’m writing the first sentence in a Nicholas Sparks novel, but I’m just going to say it: There’s a memory on every corner.
It’s the truth. I just got home last night from a weekend trip to my hometown of Prescott, Arizona. The town slogan is “Everybody’s Hometown,” but really, that’s not the truth.
Sure, it has the quaint feeling of every small town, and the people are as welcoming as family, but it’s not “everybody’s hometown.” But it is mine.
I mean that, literally almost every corner, every restaurant, every stoplight, every landmark (ie graveyards, mountains, you name it), has a memory. What a wonderful thing.
“I’m really glad you have that,” my mom told me this past weekend as we drove around.
“That’s where (ex boyfriend) and I broke up one of many times,” I said to her, pointing at a random building on one of the town’s main roads. “Really??” she asked. “Why there?”
I don’t know. Why not??
That’s the curb I hit when parallel parking during my driving test (that I should have failed but didn’t because the testing lady took pity on a young, nervous girl). That’s the driveway where I had my first kiss. That’s the graveyard my friends and I played in during a band overnight play-a-thon, where I fell in the mud while wearing jean overalls and had to sit in muddy pants the rest of the night. That’s the restaurant my high school friends and I got kicked out of for throwing spit wads at each other. That's the high school football field where I spent every Friday night marching in the band. That’s the hill I walked up with my friends as it hailed on us and we laughed the whole way. That’s the hiking trail I was on when my best friend and I saw a mountain lion. That’s the first street I drove on after passing my driver’s test. That's the first hill I slid down while driving in the snow.
|Courthouse Plaza covered in snow|
That Social Security office was once the two-screen movie theater I went to when the town was small enough to have only two theaters. That's the saloon where I danced with my first cowboy. That’s the street my brother and I rode down together on our bikes when we first moved to town and had nobody else to hang out with other than each other. That’s the mountain my brother and I climbed up in high school when it started snowing and we almost died (although in our youthful, naïve minds, it was simply an adventure).
|The mountain area we got caught in snow|
I could go on and on. People who grow up in bigger places might drive an hour to reminisce about their first kiss or the streets where they learned to drive. Most likely those streets were AKA freeways. Our town didn’t have freeways. It had highways (still does). There’s one main freeway that takes you to Phoenix, but back in the day, I wasn’t even allowed to drive to that big city alone. I learned to drive on freeways here and there, but I didn’t really feel comfortable until many years later when I moved to that big city.
That was many years ago. Eight to be exact. A lot changes in eight years. I got married, had two kids, moved even further away. My hometown remains in place and contains the roots where I come from. Isn’t that what hometowns are? I love that my hometown is the charming city of Prescott, and there’s a part of it that still feels like home. It always will.
When I drive down Whiskey Row I can’t help but think of all the nights out I had dancing to Cotton Eye Joe with my best friends. I remember the ice cream parlor that resembled the 1950s and was probably there just as long. I remember dancing on the courthouse square with my dance troop and marching with my high school band along the streets of downtown.
I remember the street corners I laughed until I peed with my best girlfriends. I drive by old houses that were once my homes away from home. I remember the friendships and the memories, the landmarks and the times I will never get back. But that’s what Prescott is. It’s a place – the only place – in my life that can (and will ever) hold all of that for me.
And the best part is that, now, I can share this place with my kids. When they are older, I will share these stories with them. When they are older, they will have memories of their own in this town. We just spent the weekend in Prescott, trick-or-treating amongst 3,000 other trick-or-treaters who gathered on the street where my parents live. It’s a small-town tradition. A wonderful one. One that brings thousands of children and families out to the tree-lined, historic street of Mount Vernon to relish in elaborate Halloween decorations and buckets of candy. What a new, special memory for me, my husband, and our boys.
That’s what I believe is special about a hometown. It’s the one place you can always go to reconnect with your roots and expand those roots by making new memories. I certainly have.
Where is your hometown and what does it mean to you?