It?s such a harmless question. And in the South it?s one of the first ones we ask. Depending on the answer to Where are you from? — there are follow-up threads of Oh! Do you know Carolyn? We went to church/college together. Oh, it?s such a small world.
You?ve had this conversation. I know you have. You uncover a handful of common acquaintances and chat about how everyone?s doing these days and how long it?s been since you?ve seen them ? and then you realize it?s your turn to check out at Walmart and your conversation ends with a few quick exchanges of ?well you be sure and tell Carolyn that Janie says hello!? And you move on. The longer I?ve lived in the South, the more of these situations I?ve found myself in ? and I LOVE them.
I don?t have a hometown. I didn?t go to high school with friends I?d known since kindergarten. And I can?t accurately finish the sentence ?I was born and raised in?? Instead, my military family moved every four-ish years on a tour of the Midwest and later the South. Due to some seriously lucky timing, I attended all of my junior high and high school years in the same small town in Arkansas, but my parents have since moved from there and I don?t get back very often.
I have always been jealous of friends that have that strong hometown connection. Roots that run deep. They can go back ?home? and within a few hours they?ve bumped into someone they know at the gas station or the grocery store.
So far, my son has lived in one place his whole life. All… 21 months of it! And sometimes I wonder whether I would rather him have the ?hometown? feeling I?ve spent my life craving or if my childhood of moving schools and making new friends would actually be better for him. After all, I know how valuable it's been for me to see and live in different places, meeting new people, gaining that additional perspective that comes with variety. But on the other hand, wouldn't he probably love it if he and his buddies could go through school and graduate together then get back together every summer and rehash old stories and laugh at old jokes?
I'm thrilled to call Arkansas home and I love the "small world" feeling I get from living in the South, but sometimes I just can't completely suppress my inner, rootless Army brat. I can't wait to see how my family's future unfolds, and how my little guy's sense of "home" helps shape who he becomes. Whether it's a small, intimate, Southern town or a handful of places bringing different people and experiences. There's no place like home.
This post has been adapted for Musings of Mother Hood. It was originally posted on Deep South Moms Blog on March 24, 2010.