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Friday, March 11, 2011

Hometown

Valerie by our old house in Booneville, Iowa
A friend of mine, Amy, posted a question on Facebook yesterday, "Your "hometown".... would that be where you were born or where you spent most of your childhood or where you graduated high school or where you have lived the past 14 years?"

That got me to thinking. It is easy for me to name my hometown, Des Moines, Iowa. I was born there, I went to school there, I got married there, you get the picture. I have only really had four years of my life when I didn't live in or around Des Moines. All of my good memories are in central Iowa. I lived in Waterloo, Iowa for two years while I was in college. That was a very hard time, no money, no car, but luckily, I had Willie and good friends to help me through.

Alyssa tooling around our old neighborhood
As I said, I automatically think of Des Moines as my hometown, not a blink about it. So, I was surprised to look at my kids' Facebooks and see that they have Van Meter, Iowa listed as their hometown. No reason for it to seem weird, that is where they grew up. We lived in Van Meter for years. Valerie graduated from Van Meter High School. For some reason however it still took me aback to think that my children do not consider my home town as their hometown. Why? I'm not sure. Is it just a self centered view that made me think that my children would think of my hometown as their hometown. Is it just that my idea of home is so ingrained in my very soul that I just assumed that my children would feel the same? Is that what home means?

My husband was an army brat. He moved from place to place, country to country. He was born in Hawaii, but still feels his hometown is Des Moines as well. Why? He didn't spend all of his childhood there. He didn't even spend most of it there. That is where his parents families were though. It is where his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins were. That is where his parents called home. Even though he moved from place to place his idea of home was derived from his parents idea of home.

Joshua taking a break from the races
It's funny to me that while Willie got his idea of home from his parents, my children did not. I'm sure it is because of the very different up bringing. Willie moved from place to place, my children, for the most part lived mainly in central Iowa, and they spent their elementary years mostly in Van Meter. Is that the age where the idea of "hometown" begins? Since I lived in the same house from the day I was born until the day I left for college, I guess I will never know.

Being far away from home has definitely enhanced my feelings about hometown. While the place its self is important, I think home has more to do with people. Our friends, our families. Where we spent the most time with them, where we have the best memories of them. Maybe our true hometown is really in our soul, our very being.

This is how I answered Amy's question, "Your hometown is the place that makes you happiest to think about, and that gives you warm, happy feelings inside. The place where your heart first woke up and wants to go back to when you aren't there." So, instead of Des Moines in particular, I would have to say that central Iowa in general is my true hometown. Des Moines, Van Meter, Altoona, all are my hometown. I grew up in those places, I raised my family in those places. I made great and lasting friendships in those places. One day I hope to return to one of those places to spend many more happy years with my family and their growing families.

Willie, Alyssa and Joshua in "the circle"
On a different note, with the disaster that is occurring in Japan right now, please stop to say a prayer for all of those in harms way. Let us hope that most will return to their hometowns safely, wherever they are.

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