I feel like Sandra Cisneros as I write this, but my hometown is a tough place to live. I don't want to sound like an NPR douche, but it just doesn't match my values. I think I have to leave, or burn it down, or something. My husband, Homemaker Man, and I bought our house almost 2 years ago. I really wanted to own a home and we don't make much money (with my job as a teacher and his as a homemaker), so we needed to move out of the urbane neighborhoods we'd been living in for almost 20 years. Basically, we couldn't afford to own where we lived.
So... Cue drum roll... I suggested my old city. After all, it is reasonably safe for a working class town, the schools still have strong art and sports programs. The people are hard working, and neighborly. I'd be able to give something back. And, best of all, we could afford it. Sounds good, right?
My G-D, was I delusional.
Right now, in this moment, I have no idea why I did this. I hated living here as a kid. I hated it so much that I left at 16 on my own, and didn't return until now, in my mid-thirties. There were other factors in my exodus, but hating this town was high on the list. It is provincial, narrow, racist, ignorant, dirty and poor. The local politicians are so ass-backwards that they make the most idiotic, lazy mistakes. The business owners don't invest in their community; they are like absentee landlords. And the citizens don't get actively involved in anything but complaining.
Everything good about the town (and there are good things) is sucked out by this all-encompassing self-loathing shame that the citizens seem to feel for their community. As a group, they hate change and resist it at all cost, and they fear the unknown. They hate themselves for still living here, but they hate the thought of leaving. As individuals, they are generous, neighborly and thoughtful. They take pride in their homes and families. They are very difficult people.
My town is the fat paste-eater in preschool. It's the smelly kid in grade school. It's the stupid, white trash bully in middle school. It's the pregnant chick smoking outside of study hall in high school. My town sucks. Why did I move back here?
I am planning my next exodus; it should take about 5 years. Moving with kids is way more complicated. I wish I could just run away again.