Some people choose to stay in their hometown forever. It’s where they were born, where they grew up, where they want to raise a family, and where they will be buried. Others leave the second they graduate high school, and never look back.
When I was 2 years old, my family moved from North Carolina to a small town in Virginia, directly at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. That same year, I met my life-long best friend. I grew up with mulberry-stained feet, summer nights spent catching lightning bugs, cold months wrapped in a homemade quilt, and waking up to the smell of homemade biscuits, fresh out of the oven. My mom and dad tucked me in every night, reminding me that my light needed to go out by 8:30 p.m., at the latest.
When I got older, things changed. I no longer appreciated the fact that we took family walks every night after dinner. MySpace top friends, wanting the cutest clothes, and the stressful nightmare that is going through puberty took precedence over everything else. To make a long story short, once I was handed my diploma, I was done with Liberty High School, and everyone associated with the so-called “World’s Best Little Town,” forever.[divider] [/divider]
This year, as I drive back home for Thanksgiving Break, (most of) the negative connotation surrounding Bedford is gone. I’ve realized that the beautiful aspects about this place surpass the not-so-beautiful parts in matter of importance. There are things I should be thankful for, things that I’ve forgotten or overlooked as I’ve grown up. And I’m thankful that it only took a few years, and a few reality checks, to change my stubborn mind. (However, this is no way means that I will EVER voluntarily move back.)
Be thankful for the ones who still live there, the ones that will always matter. Your mom, because she’ll have a roaring fire and food in the oven upon your arrival. Your dad, because even after a long work day, he still has time to clean out your car and organize the sh*t you brought back from school. Your older sister, who you fight with as soon as you both come home, yet will make you breakfast with a little coaxing. Your next-door neighbor who never forgets your birthday. Family friends who are part of literally every single childhood memory that you have. These are the ones who should remind you of your hometown, not your high-school classmates who you dread awkwardly running into at Wal-Mart.
Be thankful for your hometown because it’s somewhere you shouldn’t/can’t compare to anywhere else. I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time a few years ago. When I flew back, I was bigoted. I could not longer see the beauty in the smaller Appalachian Mountains. That is, until someone reminded me that these mountains, stretching down the East Coast, are around 200 million years older than their Western cousins.
Bedford will never be like New York City, Chicago, or Denver. But that’s OK. Those are hometowns to other people.
Be thankful for what’s there, and what makes it unique. Bedford may not have a shopping mall, movie theater, or bowling alley, but it is home to the National D-Day Memorial, Sharp Top mountain, and Holy Land (RIP).
Be thankful because your hometown is one of the most influential places in shaping who you are. I’m thankful for Bedford because it played a major role in shaping the woman I am today. The town of 5,964 people, 76.4 percent of them white, taught me how to stand up for myself, the importance of being open-minded, and the benefits of having a warm and safe house to come home to.
But today, I’m mostly thankful for my hometown of Bedford, Virginia because it means home-cooked meals, snuggling with my dogs, and a chance to catch up on some much-need sleep.
Photo credit: flicker/freefotouk[divider] [/divider]
How do you feel about your hometown? Tweet us @litdarling.