When I try to explain something about my hometown to Andy, I usually have to just end my story with, “it’s a Carterville thing.”
Growing up, I took my hometown for granted. Don’t all kids? By the time I graduated high school I thought I was ready to fly the coop, to head to a huge state school where I could be a little fish in a big pond instead of a top-of-the-class nerdy fish in a (very) small pond.
And then I got older and realized that huh, I guess not everyone gets to grow up in a town like mine.
Where I got all the way through high school without encountering any peer pressure. Where “God Bless The U.S.A.” is the last song played at every town event. Where your former teachers will friend you on Facebook and play bunco with your mom. Where the funeral home donated every last one of their services when I came home to bury Sam and Emilie.
Now I recognize how lucky I was (and am), so I was excited to head home this past weekend for my 20th high school reunion. I had fun doing all the usual reunion stuff—catching up with old friends and taking
a little way too much advantage of the open bar. There’s something special about being among people who share your memories and can remember when your hair was really (really REALLY) big.
A weekend with my all-grown-up-but-still-familiar classmates made me realize that Carterville is always my home, but the people in it are my home, too. Does that sound too mushy and sentimental? I don’t know, it’s a hard feeling to describe. Maybe it’s just a Carterville thing.