Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Who says you can't go home?

I grew up in the town of Hundred (yes like the number), West Virginia. It's in the middle of nowhere, and it's population was a booming 299 people according to the 2010 Census. Despite being from a small town, I've always been a city girl at heart. Seeing Washington, D.C. for the first time in 1995 just sealed the deal - I was leaving Hundred as soon as I could.

The August following high school graduation I headed to Morgantown, WV to attend West Virginia University and never really looked back. I had two younger brothers still at home, and I'd go back regularly to visit my family.  But as soon as I landed in Morgantown it felt more like home. I liked riding the PRT (personal rapid transit - we have a monorail) downtown to my classes, to have lunch and go out with my friends. It felt the way I thought life was supposed to feel. Bigger. 

In 2006, ten years after I graduated from high school, my parents moved to Morgantown. In the six years since I've been to Hundred maybe two or three times. Each time it seems to have gotten smaller, but it also feels pretty much the same. I've grown to refer to and even consider Morgantown my hometown.

Last weekend my mom turned 60, and my siblings and I decided to throw her a surprise party for her birthday.  It seemed easier to host it in Hundred because many of our friends and family live there (or close enough). We decided to hold it at the American Legion in Hundred because my dad is a member, drinks are super cheap, and options are limited.

Waiting not so patiently for my mom to arrive
My mom arrived Saturday evening to a room filled with family and friends. She appeared surprised although we learned later that she had known for months. Sneaky. It was a really fun night seeing people I hadn't seen in years. And while life is so hectic, and I'm so far away, in a lot of ways some things never change.

My family. We're known for our seriousness.
Growing up in a small town has really great advantages. My brother, our friends and I were free to ride bikes, play hide 'n seek with our friends, go to the community pool and really enjoy a safe community. We learned to be independent and confident.  And when I left, even though I've tried to forget it, that small town is a part of who I am.

I don't know when I'll get to Hundred again. It might be several years. It might be never. Even though I've been drawn to the city like a moth to a flame, there is a bit of nostalgia to visiting my actual hometown. Who says you can't go home?



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