With nights like these, I never want to go home.

My freshman year of college was that sentence in a nutshell. Dorm life was cramped, but it was also thrilling to live so close to friends and to live life like a typical college movie every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Our football team was thriving, campus was always abuzz, and my friends and I were having the time of our lives; who would want to even be away for a second?

It was easy to let remnants of high school and my hometown drift to the back of my mind when my life was so drastically different from where it had been a year before. Visiting my hometown on a weekend felt like a chore; compared to my life back at college, my town and all it had to offer paled in comparison.

And of course it paled. Life in my hometown was often described as a bubble that people wanted to get out of as soon as possible. Teeming with strip malls and a police force that was all too eager to break up a house party, friends and strangers alike agreed that it was just a stepping stone to a more exciting place. It was almost cool to hate on my hometown.

Typical teen angst, I guess?

Now in my second year of college, I think about one of the last days I spent with my high school friends before leaving my hometown. There we were, sitting on the back of my friend's porch, reminiscing on all the memories high school had given us. The slight summer breeze blew as we laughed about the time we hung out at the gas station down the road for five hours just talking, or all the times we had awkward encounters with classmates at the local Mexican restaurant, a staple of our town. We imagined all the late night drives we had taken together, zooming down the connecting roads that surrounded our hometown over and over again, blasting music with the windows down.

Thinking back to that day, I realize that the most mundane, boring, suburban things about my town were what made it so great. They're what made me who I am today. The gas station hangouts led to deep conversations with my best friends I still remember and cherish. The strip malls that I once thought were so void of anything special ended up housing the Mexican restaurant that everyone from high school used as an impromptu meeting place.

And those roads my friends and I used to drive around when we were bored? I still find myself driving those at sunset, sometimes alone, reminiscing on when life was as simple as these roads, that gas station, and this town.