Everyone who leaves a small town for a big college knows that there are some major truths that happen while you're there. And there's also a lot that happens when you come back, but what about when you bring your college friends home to the middle of nowhere?
Well, quite a lot actually.
I have spent an entire two years explaining to my friends about my hometown. It's small. It's in the middle of nowhere. No one goes there on purpose unless you live there/know someone who does. It's just too out of the way and not really close to anything major. I explain to the ones from bigger cities that, no, it doesn't have a Mediterranean food restaurant (or really anything beyond Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese) and that yes, I really do live an hour away from the closest Target.
Friends from other small towns were confused as to why I loved my home so much. I mean, don't get me wrong, they don't hate their homes or anything, but it kind of confuses them that I travel home so much and take a lot of pride in being from what I like to think of as a hidden little gem.
I could list a million reasons why I think my hometown is amazing because it's my home, but I still just couldn't quite help them grasp the concept. So, naturally, I decided that if I couldn't bring the town to them, I would just have to bring them to the town. To that end, I packed them in my car a week and a half after finals were over and we drove the four hours to the teensy little place called Wise, Virginia.
To say that the visit was interesting would be the least of it. I did my best to point out landmarks to them as we drove in, with the help of my roommate, who had visited before. The beauty of the Appalachian Mountains always makes for a scenic drive, but I was especially proud of them this time as there were lots of "oohs" and "ahs" from the back seat. I don't really know what they were expecting after hearing comments from other people like "Wise County? What on earth are you going there for?" or "You realize there's nothing there, right?," but I don't think they were disappointed with a sunset over the mountains introduction.
The next day was when I got to really show off. I took them for a walk down on Main Street, making sure to show off the historical buildings and point out things such as our two boutiques and one coffee shop. You would have thought that I had asked the entire town to arrange for everything to be perfect from the way things went that day. We ran into three different people I knew on the street while two more drove by (in the span of an hour or so). Flags had been freshly hung from every streetlight. The flowers were in full bloom in planters and houses. Like I had constantly been trying to tell my pals, Wise was being a perfect, quintessential, movie style small town.
We saw the major views off the mountains, ate at my favorite local places (where the fact that I knew half of the people working seemed to seal the impression that I know everyone in the county), and just generally drove around. For two days, my big college friends got to get a taste of my small town life in what I personally think is one of the coolest places ever (I might be a little biased though), and I might not know their exact thoughts, but I do know that they understand me like they hadn't before because they understand the place that built me and shaped me and made me who I am.
To the friends that let me pack them into a car and drive them four and a half hours down Interstate 81 to one of the little tip counties of Virginia, thanks. You guys don't know how much it meant to me that you came and that you appreciated what you saw.
To my little hometown, thanks for showing them the way that we are and how the place that I come from simply is. I can safely say that an entire town built me, not just a house, and I'm glad that some of my favorite people in the world could experience just a tiny little bit of that.