Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Visiting My Home Town

Visiting My Home Town

Tomorrow I am headed to Indiana, the land of my birth, to visit with my parental units and attend my 35th high school reunion. It is so amazing to think it has been so many years since I graduated from high school and lived with my family of origin. Since that time, I’ve had amazing experiences and the pleasure and privilege to travel the world.  But I am the person I have grown to be in no small part because I was born and raised in Logansport, Indiana – the eldest daughter of two community minded elementary school teachers.

When I was young and looking to escape from the restraints of small town midwestern life, I wanted nothing more than to leave.  I would imagine that I was from someplace exciting and glamorous. When I lived in Dallas, Texas back in the mid ‘80’s,  I had a manager tell me that it was impossible to runaway from who we are and where we are from.  It took me some additional decades to fully appreciate what he meant.

The places of childhood give us our core values. The experiences of life and the road we travel after leaving the places of childhood matter; but I will always be an Indiana girl from a fairly small town. One grandfather was a plumber and the other a farmer – good solid stock.   I grew up with a work ethic. My parents were both elementary school teachers. I grew up across the street from the church we attended. I walked to kindergarten, elementary school and junior high school. Until I had a driver’s license, I walked a mile to the junior high to catch the bus to the high school.

As kids we played baseball, cowboys and Indians and Star Trek.  We caught fireflies, made mud pies, crafted clover necklaces, took swimming lessons, chased the mosquito repellent truck down the alley, mowed the grass, and played tag.  The entire community would gather downtown to watch a fire burning on a freezing, icy Saturday morning.  It took 15 minutes to drive across town. It was a great place to grow up.

But it is sad to return and see how these once vibrant small midwestern towns have changed. Manufacturing companies have shuttered their doors. There were no jobs to keep young people.  But it is a place I go to recharge my batteries. I can drive onto a county road where the corn is growing, stop my car, and just breathe in the country, pollen infused Indiana air. It is still healing. Maybe it is the memories that heal. But then again, maybe it is the soul of the Midwest that underneath the changes still pulls me in and reminds me of who I am – which is a good thing.

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