Since I was a little girl my life has revolved around Friday night football games, nights out at the local pizza joint and a constant expectation to worship and respect the family name hierarchy that surrounds the school systems, businesses and social events of my hometown. My kindergarten classmates sat beside me at graduation and my biology teacher taught my dad chemistry when he went to my high school in 1986.
Waffle House is considered a night out and there's always a wait at the nail salon because there's only one in town. If you're feeling adventurous, you have two options. You're more than welcome to hit up one of the various Mexican restaurants spread out across town. Or, if you have absolutely nothing to do, you may even hop down the road thirty miles and see what the real world has to offer.
Now, anyone from a small town can you tell that there are days where the absence of traffic, crime and loitering outweighs the convenience of shopping centers, movie theaters, and social opportunities. However, coming from a girl who has spent nearly her entire life in the sheltered small town of Jefferson, Georgia I would like to argue the latter for just a minute.
With any small town comes the potential for a power struggle, and unfortunately the town I call home suffers the worst from it.
It is human nature to work to develop a sense of power and control. Small towns are breeding places for this phenomenon, and this influences the rest of the community through school systems, job opportunities, and relationships. The same family name that is prominent today was also prominent ten years ago and will remain prominent ten years from now.
For some reason or another, someone with this last name is making decisions about things that don't seem to correlate with their expertise and these decisions are affecting the city's student body, as well as the entirety of the "new name" and "old name" communities.
Not only is this unhealthy, it's unfair to everyone in the younger generations. We didn't ask for this.
It's the elephant in the room in any sporting event, board meeting, missed opportunity, or unfair outcome. Nobody wants to be the person that identifies the "old name" power complex, but the majority wish there was a way to reverse it or equalize it. The truth is the opinions of various upbringings, or in a plainer sense, differing last names, are not only necessary but essential in a world where opportunity is abundant and change is crucial in order to evolve.
My last name didn't seem to make the cut for importance, and I'm OK with it.
Trust me, I am more than thankful for all the experiences that came with living in my small town, and I wouldn't change it for anything because without it I would not have developed this understanding. Sure, my parents did not choose to spend their money funding the booster club, and my parents' jobs didn't always allow them to be "team mom" of our recreation team. My last name likely faded from the memory of my high school as soon as I was handed my diploma, but I have bigger and better things to do and places to go.
A hometown is what the name says, a home.
However, I am not satisfied accepting that truly living is idolizing the children on the field on Friday Night and anticipating who the next homecoming queen will be. My small town will always be a place I once called home, but it certainly doesn't have to be my home forever. To constrain me to the safety and simplicity of this town would be tragic.
I know one day I will bring my kids by the local pizza joint and we'll order a large pepperoni pizza with a 12 count garlic knots. As the kids fight over who called dibs on the last slice, I'll overhear a conversation from the booth next to ours about how good of a game the dragons played that night and how little Jonny is really gonna be a football prodigy one day. I'll start to wonder what ever happened to that boy they used to go on and on about when I was in school. He'll walk in hand and hand with little Jonny and I'll smile and roll my eyes, reminded that some things never change.