Like many people in my hometown, I’ve been here since a young age. Three-years-old to be exact. My parents who came from Hawaii were to be based in Seattle. So why of all places did they choose Gig Harbor? Well, at that time it was a small town that was isolated from the big city. My parents wanted my brother and me to grow up in a safe environment that wasn’t too rural but wasn’t in the heart and soul of the rat race that the city brought. But lately, when I go home to visit I don’t find that welcoming hometown feeling that I once had. In fact, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. For many people who once lived in a small town, they know the feeling when their home doesn’t feel like home anymore. Here’s why I wish my original hometown went back to normal.

It’s too crowded.
The one nice thing about my town was that it was quiet and pretty small. The majority of everyone knew everyone and it was a blessing and a curse when you wanted to do errands. You were guaranteed to run into at least three people you knew. Nowadays when you go anywhere you’re lucky if you see one person whose name you might not know but you’ve at least seen their face at some school function.

Your name doesn’t really mean anything anymore.
When I left for school, my friends and I were very well known in town. My friends were all-state athletes who went to big name schools. We were all head of ASB who planned every function, and we were all involved in other activities that had us working with the community. Now when I go home and meet some uppity family, I have to reference my brother and then they’ll show some decency to give me the time of day. It’s crazy how all that can change within four years.

Mom and Pop places are hard to come by.
Something else that gave my town its charm was the local businesses that provided what we needed for necessities. Whether it was hole in the wall bakeries, cute little cafes, or even local appliance companies; these businesses are at a bare minimum. Now what we have is the commercialized businesses and the chain restaurants that occupy our buildings and strip malls.

It’s just too built up.
There is constantly construction and a new building that’s to be completed with at least four new stores. For the first time, there is actual traffic too. Not the kind of traffic that happened right after school got out because the buses were constantly stopping. But the sort of traffic that happens when you have so many new people moving into town. Traffic that is absolute nonsense and makes you think twice if it’s really worth doing your errands today, in fear of becoming aggravated at the idiot who is going too slow in front of you.

It’s sad to me that home hardly feels like home anymore. It’s a place that I spent a wonderful childhood in and now it’s sad to see what has come of it. So no, I don’t need all of these new chain stores and restaurants. I’m fine going over the bridge and paying the toll to do so. All I want is my cute little hometown back. The one that shaped my friends and me into the people we’ve become. The one where I could smile at the elderly couple from across the street, and not because I knew them personally, but because they’re the same couple I pass every morning when I’m walking around the harbor.