Many of us have probably taken a very similar route in our lives. You live in some area under the roof of your parent’s house for the first 18 years or so before moving to a different state or city. Maybe you go off to school, join the military or maybe just want to escape the dullness of your hometown. Very seldom do people live in the same town for their entire life. Returning to that place where you grew up is always a great experience and that is what happened to me a few weekends ago.
I grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota and spent the first 18-19 years of my life there. Along the way, I accumulated many memories both good and bad. Like many people I grew up with, I went off to college before landing a job here in the Twin Cities. My parents still lived in my hometown so I visited frequently on holidays and such. My father suddenly passed away shortly before he was about to retire and my mother moved to another town after she retired. So the trips to my old stomping grounds pretty much came to stop. Sure, I had some relatives and cousins who still lived there but those trips to my mom’s new town to see her and my sisters along with their kids was enough for me. There is only so much traveling one guy can do!!
That all changed a few weeks ago. It all started several months ago when my cousin who now lives in Kentucky contacted me about traveling up to our old hometown for a weekend in July. Both him and I grew up there and we almost like brothers. He is a year older than me and we shared so many of the same memories of that little town. I did not hesitate at all. We made plans and the day finally arrived when I was about to return to the scene of my early years.
One of the things that I really miss about traveling up there is the wonderful scenery, peace and tranquility of a rural area. That became evident as I drove further north. The pine trees, lakes and remote wilderness and lack of traffic was a treat for this city guy. It is a totally different world up there and sometimes that can be the best therapy for any stressed out city person.
After dropping off my suitcase at my aunt and uncle’s house and visiting with them for a while, it was time to meet up with my cousin and take a journey around town to see the old sites. We met at a McDonald’s which interesting enough was built on a same location that a strip club used to be. That was one of the first things that my cousin brought up. He used to work at a gas station across the street so he had some rather bad memories of the rift raft that came from that club. A great move by the city to tear that place down!!
During the next few hours, my cousin and I took a little tour around town and visited some of the old sites that we frequented during our youth. We went to some of the old ball fields where we spent so much time playing baseball and softball. Next to one of the ball fields was the old basketball court where I spent so much time playing pickup basketball during my high school days. The memories just flooded my mind!! I felt like I was 18 again!! For old-time sakes, I walked to the pitching mound of a softball field where I pitched at the same location for about 5 years. It seemed like just yesterday!!
We also drove around and looked some of the old houses that we spent time at. My late Grandma’s old house was one of the places that stood out in our little tour. It was like a second home to both of us along with many of our cousins. Nothing really changed much except for a few more trees in the front yard. We also drove past my parent’s first house. They bought the house for only 17k. That would be unheard of in this day and age. Most cars cost more. I looked at the backyard and memories of myself playing back there as a youngster came to light.
Later on, many of my relatives got together and had a little picnic at the city beach. I had so many great memories of that beach during my high school and college years. Our picnic was absolutely wonderful!! It was really great reuniting with relatives that I had not seen in years! They all kind of needled me for not visiting more often. I loved visiting with everyone along with eating some great food.
Eventually, it was time to leave my old hometown and come back to my home in the Twin Cities. I may have left the area but a part of me will always stay in that small town. The first few chapters of my life story will consist of living there and the many experiences that I went through. While I was looking at the old sites, I thought about what it would be like to live there today. I think anyone has those thoughts when you pay a visit to your hometown. Would you move back? For me, the answer is a flat-out no. If I had a family and kids, I might consider it but that is not the case right now in my life. A small town is just not the right place to live for a single guy without kids.
That weekend a few weeks ago will be one of the most memorable that I have had in a long time. I will definitely be back more often. Those 18 years living there will always be a part of who I am. I realize now how much I have grown as a person since those early days. It is funny how some of your fondest memories occur while living in your hometown. I always tell young people to relish those memories because they will always be remembered for the rest of your life. Going back to the scene of those memories makes that trip back to the old hometown that more special.