Saturday, November 03, 2007 -orig post date - www.myspace.com/chief_reindeer
It has been thirteen years since I've lived in my small town. Visits were limited to 5day spans twice a year. Once at Christmas. Another open to discussion.
Not to go all Golden Girls on you, but picture it: Small Southern town in Tennessee. Population 1,000. Diversity defined by degrees of Protestant reflections on salvation and musical accompaniment. Methodist tend to be quiet, keeping the faith on the inside and the singing light. Church of God have tambourines in the pews, bass and electric guitar upfront, and a shiny, glittery drum set in the back all keeping time to the pitter-patter of altar-trips and testimonials in tongues. There is nothing like a Sunday morning spent in a Southern church. When the preachers pulls out the handkerchief, the sweat bullying up his face, jerks off his jacket, and grabs the microphone, you know entertainment is about to go down. Nothing sizzles and swirls the spirit like threats of brimstone and promises of fire.
In my romantic way, I like to think I ran away the night of high school graduation to college, never looking back. But it was less dramatic than that. Despite what one might think, I enjoyed my school years. I was in with a cool clique. I was at the parties. I knew the cheerleaders. My family was always supportive if somewhat reluctant to let me go. Tears to the airport. Yet there is no edge in having a functional childhood. So let's pretend I was an outsider. Insert all the stereotypes here.
After 11yrs in the surreal alter-reality that is NY/NJ, I'm back home. That all is a tale for another time. Let's just say I just needed to breathe different air. When you don't know what you want or what to do. You go home. Like I said, I have a good family.
In the short time I've been back, a few things have become apparent. The high school football game is still the thing to do on Fridays. The one last night resulting in parents fighting and kids being cleared from the field. Awesome. The Fishing Hole, this paved little parking area next to the park, is still, well, the Fishing Hole, where you pull in to talk and be seen (though in a town with 2 traffic lights, it isn't that difficult to be noticed if that is what you want). And the Hasti-Mart, the local version of a convenience store with its sub sandwiches, Slushy Machine, and old men in their Dicky overalls sipping coffee and eyeing you over, trying to figure out whose kid you are, is still the only place to get a Sun-Drop (if only because it is open until midnight).
What has changed, however, are the first names. And I don't mean just in that everyone is now named Colten, Jaden, Harrison, Britton, Chase, or Dyron (admittedly the last three examples are my nephews). Apparently in my 13yrs of absence, my schoolmates have been fruitful and multiplied. A few did it even before I left. My mom points them out. That is so-and-so's son. That is blah-blah's girl. Generations sit together at the games. The parents I once knew at sleepovers now grandparents. The kid I remember giving Indian-burns and eating dirt, now stalking the sidelines like my daddy once did. Watching the game. Ready to yell out opinions and play-calls.
Parenting aside, people themselves have changed. The one time dazed-and-confused are now born-again preachers. Pastors proclaiming the power of Christ regaling with their confessions of gutter-life and the healing from the blinding warmth. The uppity, self-righteous have been unseated by their four kids and two ex-husbands. I suppose I am entertained by the roll of the die for them all. How things played out, but, yet, I'm unsettled by it.
Or maybe I'm most disturbed because I don't know where I fit in all of this. What conversation can I have with my peers if I ran into them? I have no kids. No Meghan or Brantly to speak of. I have no insight into marriage nor pick-up trucks nor, God help me, hunting.
I'm embarrassed to say I've moved back and am a little too quick to add-in that it's only until January when I plan to be in Nashville, at the very least. "And Nashville sooo has museums and theaters", as I keep reminding no one but myself.
In a small town nothing changes but the first names. The families are the same. Brewers. Stults. Berrys, of all variations. Holts. Thompsons. A few move out, but the families are large enough that no void is felt. Thing is, I'm no longer part of this small town. And that's ok. Collinwood doesn't need me. And I'm happy to just be visiting. Dear Lord, just let me be visiting.