To my hometown:
I heard something the other day that has been bothering me. I was at work talking to a former classmate when one of my former teachers walked in. I don't remember the exact conversation, but it ended with my teacher asking us where we lived.
"Cresco," we both replied.
"Nope," she said, "Your parents live in Cresco. You both go to college, so for most of the year you live there."
It was an innocent comment, but for me it was a strange realization. She was right, I don't live in Cresco anymore. At least, not most of the year. But do I really consider myself a resident of St. Paul? I haven't even lived there for a full year, how can I possibly feel a part of that city? I think the thing that scared me the most about that comment was the finality of it. I once lived here. I grew up here. I met my first friends here. I can't just suddenly not be a part of this community? Could I?
Just ask anyone, I'm proud of where I'm from. But maybe that's just it, it's where I'm from. Halfway through the summer and I'm finding myself waiting for September. I have never looked forward to school. Never. So you can imagine my surprise when I realized that I'm okay with no longer being a part of this community.
So I want to take the time to reminisce one last time with you before I lock it all away in my memories. Thank you for giving me a safe place to grow up. A place that was full of friends and neighbors who cared about me. Thank you for introducing me to my best friends. Even though we are separated at college, we still make time to keep up with each other. Thank you for my high school. It might crazy, but going to classes with the same people I graduated preschool with is something I miss more than I realized. There is nothing like a familiar face to make someone feel at home. Most importantly, thank you for being small. It was a real pain to have to drive a half hour to do anything fun (like screwing around in Walmart) but those car rides hold some of the best memories. But your size helped me get my first job, learn how to deal with money and banks, and the impact our tiny farming community has on the wider world.
Of course, you have your flaws. I won't miss your lack of activities and restaurants. I won't the ideas that never change. I won't miss the small town politics that seemed always had one family pinned against another.
That being said, I am by no means a city slicker from St. Paul. I don't know what I would consider myself. I guess I'm just stuck in the college limbo. Living with the memories of what was, and what is yet to be. Don't let the memories fool you, I remember why I left. I think I'm better off this way. But all of the horrible things about you would never make me regret my childhood. It's made me who I am, and it will continue to shape who I will be.
The little bird who left the nest.