The Boonies.

It’s intriguing when we take a moment to step back and see things through others’ eyes. We easily become accustomed to how a place looks, what on-goings take place, and what idiosyncrasies a place may hold. It only takes a minute or two of an outsider’s perspective to completely change our own view.

A memory-filled drive through my hometown, with my guy in the passenger seat, resulted in new understandings and thoughts about a place I thought I knew as well as the back of my hand…

I grew up in a small town. Before you get concerned, I’m not going to smother you in the lyrics of an extremely overplayed Kelly Clarkson song.

But, “small town” may not describe my childhood location appropriately. In this town, you couldn’t say a curse word at lunch time without your mother getting a call about it by dinner. We played flash light tag in the street well into the night, and a simple name call from the front door by your parent would have you running back home. Neighbors knew each other extremely well. Maybe too well. And every Sunday, most residents flocked to their local church. After all, you only had a choice between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Welcome to Whitman, world of poorly managed lawn shrubbery.

Welcome to Whitman, world of poorly managed lawn shrubbery.

Home of the Toll House cookie, Whitmanites (yes, really) are historical gurus, understanding of the sacrifices made back in 1709 to begin this small town business. In fact, Whitmanites are so proud of their heritage that they honored the Toll House legacy by building a Wendy’s right on top of it. Now, if that isn’t honorable, I don’t know what is.

Wendy, meet Toll. Toll, Wendy.

Wendy, meet Toll. Toll, Wendy.

Along with the sugary sweet history, Whitmanites are a rowdy bunch of party animals! The town center is a happening, hip place where all the cool cats go. Curious about my jazzed up lingo? Just channeling the 1950’s culture that has wrapped the entire town in its death grip, refusing to let go for over sixty years.

Outside of the time a drunk driver drove their car through the pharmacy and new siding was needed, the town center remains unchanged for decades. How would I know this? Simple. If you’re born in Whitman, you never leave Whitman. You get married in, and have children in the town, thus trapping them in the cycle of imprisonment stagnancy.

Better get in early on a Friday night, this place is on fire!

Better get in early on a Friday night, this place is on fire!

From the town’s obsession with high school football and dollar pizza on Thursdays at the local pie shop, to their never-ending dedication to gossip and small town politics, Whitman is a joyous place.

But despite its flaws, setbacks, and horrifying discoveries, it’s my home.

Driving through the center, I smile upon memories of being seventeen and blasting through the four-way stop at 50mph, laughing with friends as the police were busy shackling skateboarders. I shit you not.

The run-down pie and sub shops scattering the streets played the role of meeting center for my friends and I on half-days at school.

The tacky fast-food sign overshadowing history brings back reminders of a summer spent in the car with my best friend, daydreaming about our crushes and life as a college student.

And every inch of the town, from the welcome sign to the archaic car shop that signifies the town’s border, holds a memory. A thought, a musing, a flash of my life.

For that fact, and that fact only, I have to say… I’m proud to be from the boonies.

13 responses to “The Boonies.

  1. The phenomena of seeing your everyday life through the eyes of another can be quite refreshing! A friend who has lived in big cities her whole life came to visit me a few summers ago. I decided to take her to a concert on the square of the next small town west of mine. The quickest way there was a country road, bending around corn fields and cow pastures, whose last curve took us from a tunnel of corn stalks to a city street just blocks from the square. (This was a similar route to the one I took a certain awesome nurse visiting from Boston 😉 ). She was fascinated and it was fun for me to sit back and consider her perspective.

    Great blog – I loved visiting your hometown!

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your hometown. I never really had one, since we moved around so much, but I spent my high school years in a town very similar to this one. I went back years later, maybe to re-claim personal history and couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I suppose it all depends on what kind of memories you have of a place.

    • It must have been hard moving around a lot during your teen years. My guy’s family moved him all over during those years, and I can’t help but feel sympathy when he talks about a lack of a “home”. But on a positive note – some towns are better forgotten! I’ve driven through some areas I lived outside of my hometown and I couldn’t hit the gas peddle quick enough to fly out of there!

  3. LOVED reading about your town. Should be more like it. Maybe there is? My town is small but I live out the outskirts of Los Angeles so it’s different.

  4. What a sweet and lovely tribute to a special place )

  5. Sounds like the skateboarders were a little bit rough lol

  6. This is such a fun post! I love the idea of small towns and there are an abundance in Texas and if you’re not driving on the interstate it’s hard to miss them, but the reality of small towns isn’t as appealing to me. My in-laws have a ranch out west and the closest town is around 5,000 (and shrinking). When we graduated from college we bought a house there and tried to settle in. I think there’s definitely a difference between having lived in the small town your whole life and trying to acclimate to one. We lasted 7 months. 😉

    • I bet that was a huge transition time for you all! I currently live in a small-ish town, but compared to my hometown, it’s a city. I still dream about a day when I can live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland. Hopefully when that time comes I will enjoy the reality of the dream and not just the essence of the dream!

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