17. Take pride in your hometown.
I was born in a town that is the epitome of the intersection between city folk and Old McDonald. I went to a small farm school for my elementary education where you could name everyone in your grade. The “Ag” program started at a young age and our history was as solid as the bricks that built the school. The name was Hopewell and it created within its students what the name suggests—hope for a future with endless education and the wellness of mind from knowing the people around you would form the friendships you cherish forever.
As we grew into awkward brace-faced preteens with curious minds and Lisa Frank folders, we graduated D.A.R.E and went to middle school. The other elementary school in the district combined with mine to double our class size and in turn doubling our pool of boyfriend prospects. It was intimidating having these “city kids” march into recess with their Aeropostale baby T’s. But we stuck with what we knew and held hands through the change. We let in new friends but held tight to the old. They were our comfort, our past, and our home.
Soon there were no lines between one person’s past and another’s. We were the big dogs of the school with our boy-girl parties and our first kisses. We were too cool for dances and hell, come at us, we even wore mascara. We went to movies and held hands and (kind of) fell in love. We had couple songs to Gavin Degraw’s Chariot and made friendship bracelets.
Then we went to high school. We went from head honchos to little punks and we held tight through it all. We went through our first heartbreaks and low-points and maybe even failed a test. But the one thing we never lost was our grip. We knew where each other came from and we made sure we never lost sight of it. We whined there was nothing to do when we got our first taste of freedom at the sweet age of sixteen. Yet our lack of events made us appreciate the simple company of each other. We didn’t have IMAX theaters or teen clubs. We had movie rentals and Adornetto’s. We had bonfires and toasted marshmallows and sleepovers galore. We had game nights and lazy nights and gift exchanges.
And when we once again became the big dogs of the school—only this time with true loves and sisterhoods facing the biggest change of our lives—we prepared to say “see you later” with our hands, still, held tight.
I will forever be grateful for the place that taught me most of these lessons. Be grateful for the town that taught you how to love, how to fight— and how to be.
it’s an outlet. it’s an inspiration. it’s a gift. it’s a purpose