Spring is in the air, the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing and today I am forty-one! Ouch!! Something about that puts life in a better perspective. I’m not saying I’m any the wiser, but am definitely older. But that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to be 17 years old again (although I do wish I had my 17 year old body). Everyone has heard the old adage ‘If I only knew then what I know now’. Most likely I’d do no different. Not because I made the wisest decisions the first time around, but I did the best I could. I would not want to change anything because those experiences have made me who I am today…both the good and the bad.
Last Saturday I was invited to the Indiana Author Fair which was being hosted by the Library in my old hometown. There is something about ‘returning to the scene of the crime’. The streets echo whispers from yesterday…walking to softball practices, home from basketball games, Friday night football games, riding bikes with the neighborhood kids and hanging out with friends you thought would be in your life forever. Progress has changed the once small town in Indiana into a city. It’s sad really. It is now a hollow shell of what it once was. Being part of a small town there are a few things we all took for granted;
1. If our parents didn’t catch us doing something, chances are someone else’s did and ours would find out soon.
2. You graduated with the same kids you went to Kindergarten with.
3. Everyone knew everything about everyone else…and what they didn’t know for sure, they speculated about…A LOT!
4. We rode in the back of a pick-up sitting on the tailgate to Dairy Queen after we’d won a softball game…and it wasn’t illegal.
5. We could ride our bikes all over town and our parents never thought anything of it.
6. The town police and school teachers were also our neighbors and most likely, friends with our parents.
7. Some of the best and wildest parties were held in a barn.
As a kid I couldn’t wait to escape the confines of my small town. I hated the lack of privacy, the nosey neighbor syndrome, and lack of career opportunities. Now, twenty-some years later, I hate that my children missed out on all the little things I took for granted as a kid. They didn’t grow up in the city, but rather a large suburban town. They got to ride their bikes from stop sign to stop sign until they were in Intermediate school. There are over eight hundred kids in my daughter’s graduating class, I had less than a hundred. A slight difference…
But the majority of those towns have disappeared, just like mine, to the same villain…progress. Of course, some can still be found. They are just further and further out from the major cities. Most barely appear on a state map. Still, there is something to be said about that feeling of community that those living in the city will never know. And to be really honest, I dearly miss it.