I grew up in a small town right here in south central Kansas. A real midwestern small town, established as a railroad and shipping stop, in which the only traffic light is a flashing four way stoplight suspended by cables down the “main” road, where stubborn old people and nepotism are the only reasons the town still exists and anyone is doing what they’re doing, and with an average population of about 1,600 people, everyone knows your business.
Naturally, I thought I hated it. I hated a 30 minute commute to civilization, I hated living near racist rednecks, I hated always waiting on trains, and I hated not living near my friends (post-elementary school). I hated feeling trapped in a stereotypical dead end town where the only chain (or stable) restaurant was an old Pizza Hut.
But even at its worst, even when I hated it the most, there was always so much good. It was my home.
Where my first boy I thought I was going to marry lived across the street from me my entire life, where my first best friend and I rode horses through the woods in her backyard, where everyone waved and smiled in passing even if you didn’t know them. I grew up there, with barely any light pollution at night, the huge garden my dad planted every year, and watching the corn and wheat and soy bean fields change color and shape every single day of the year.
There in that tiny town is where I became who I am, and learned who I wanted to become. Where I first knew love and despair, where I left bits of my spirit in the dust on all of the dirt roads and learned how much I love pulling over the car to cut wildflowers.
As much as it sometimes pains me to admit it, that town was and, in some ways, still is my home. Roots.
That being said, having finally moved from my hometown to the town where I attended school post-elementary school to high school graduation just this year (2015), I do not get homesick. Don’t get me wrong, I miss it sometimes, but not enough to want to go back. I know I’m always where I’m supposed to be and, right now, there is obviously not that place. Despite the heavy light pollution, lack of open space, and absence of crops to admire here, I don’t get homesick.
A large part of that is because I’m highly adaptable and have never been predisposed to emotional attachment, or staying in one place; but I’ve realized that the other part of it is that that home is still within me. There’s a very obvious reason why the place you grew up is called your roots.
I see it in the way I don’t mind June bugs, how I’m always barefoot outside, how train lights while crossing tracks don’t startle me. I see it in how much I love the locust and cicada song, and how it doesn’t feel like just driving is wasting gas.
And no matter where I end up, I’m very thankful that I began my life in a place where you could fall in love with the sunflower field down the way and hear the baseball games going on from across town.