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.
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.
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
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.