“Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son, take a good look around, this is your hometown.” – My Hometown – Bruce Springsteen
To quote two of my favourite characters (Springsteen and Carrie Bradshaw) back to back, today I got to thinking about hometowns. This weekend, like only a few others throughout the year, is one where the bus line-ups are winding, toes are tapping at 4:00pm on a Friday, grocery stores are madhouses and phones are lighting up with chaotic planning and “see you soon’s.” It’s one of those weekends where you are bound to make an appearance in someone’s hometown. And what does your hometown really mean to you?
The concept of a hometown is an interesting and varying thing for many people. Some have over ten hometowns, to the point where they can’t pinpoint which one really is. Some have one which they are dreading going back to; where they plan on camouflaging into the confines of their home and screening calls from reuniting friends demanding their presence. Some can’t imagine not returning for this famous weekend; they feel that finally, after two months back in the ‘real world’, they get to return to what feels comfortable and right. Some don’t return at all, because there’s not much to go back to.
These typical holidays, the diverse outlooks on this place we call “home”, and people’s opinions on both become pretty obvious after a few social interactions back on the homefront. There are usually people who scoff at the idea of returning to where they grew up, and if they do so, they feel as if they’re making a guest star appearance in a community they’ve outgrown. Then there are those that look fondly upon the glory days spent where they grew up, couldn’t imagine branching from the proverbial hometown tree, and don’t understand the latter group. There are those that start a new life in their old city, come to know it with a new perspective and fall back in love with it. There are people whose main goal is family, the roots from which we first grew and now re-ground us – and when they come back, no one else really matters.
I know people who couldn’t wait to escape the city limits growing up, like they were born to a place they had no connection with. When they got away, set up camp in a foreign land and met those friends they’d been waiting for, they made their own home; their new friends became their new family. Then there are those that went away but felt their soul was stuck back where they originated, on those familiar streets, in those familiar pubs, with those wonderful hometown faces they knew would always be there.
I think this weekend we can all relate, to a certain degree, to each of these mindsets. To me, the best part about living is just doing it, to the best of your ability, wherever that might be. There doesn’t need to be judgement about where we all end up, and how we feel about where we came from. If you feel the most alive in a town you spent the first 17 years of our life – where you have history, pride and loyalty to a place that bred you – so be it. If you feel alive starting a new job in a novel city, where you’re practically anonymous and your slate’s been wiped immaculately clean – well, then that’s a beautiful thing as well. If you’re six months into a job on the other side of the country, and you end up shoulder-to-shoulder with a hometown acquaintance, and your heart warms at the sight of someone who sprouted from the same grounds you did – embrace it and re-connect. Why not?
There’s nothing wrong with which way you go, what feels comforting, what feels stale and what feels new. The bottom line is that wherever you consider to be your hometown, and wherever you’re sitting right now on this well-known long weekend, you hold but the slightest allegiance and admiration for the place you took some of your first and most important steps. After all, however you choose to participate in life now, is because of even the littlest influence what you consider to be your hometown had on you. We aren’t defined by where we come from, and we certainly aren’t defined by where we live, but we take bits of both with us and keep moving.
So, this weekend, I hope you’ve found that (wherever it may be) home is where the heart is…in a nutshell.
Where do you call home, and why? Let us know!