Growing Up in a Small Town
I like to see if anything has changed, if I have changed. I have this daydream about going back there and seeing everyone I went to high school with. These were people who made me feel uncomfortable on a daily basis, always calling me “the quiet girl.” I walk into our 10 year reunion and everyone gasps; they are shocked at how good looking, smart, and worldly I’ve become. As we stand around the punch bowl and stale cookies I talk like I’m Indiana Jane, and amaze the crowd that has now formed, with stories of my foreign adventures. While growing up in a small town, it’s the big fantasy.
“Oh yes, I was sprinting down the train platform to jump on this train in Bulgaria, and when I hopped on I had to share a cabin with 4 old Bulgarian ladies who offered me these gross little bread rolls from a basket, their toothless smiles however, were warm and inviting,” I would say, hands waving around to express myself. “But that is nothing compared to the time I repelled down a castle wall in Italy, or zip lined through the jungle in Ecuador.”
“Wow Sarah, that’s amazing. I’m so sorry for making fun of your layered outfits everyday, I guess I just never realized you were so much cooler than me,” Heather would say, the most ruthless of all the girls who would make fun of me as I walked by her and her friends on the way to my locker.
I grew up in Belfast, a small town on the coast of Maine. It was an idyllic town; it had charming buildings and galleries that made tourists say “this town is just bursting with art!” Seriously, I once overheard a woman, clad in cargo pants and a floral print t-shirt, say this to her friend. They were standing in the middle of the sidewalk blocking my way to the candy store. I wanted to respond, “I’m about to burst out some choice words if you don’t move out of the fucking way Susie Sunshine!”
If I ever go back to Belfast, Maine it will be to walk around like that guy from The Verve in a music video, taking in the sights and smells like a drug I had quit long ago. I’ll stare at the houses I used to walk by everyday, assuming I would never forget what they looked like; wood shutters, shabby welcome signs, maple trees in the front yards. If I ever go back to that small town it will be to sit by the water, salty wind in my hair; I’ll look at the same view I looked at on my last day there almost 10 years ago. I will buy 10$ worth of Wonka candy at my favorite candy shop, enjoy a slice of pizza from Alexia’s, and see a movie at the Colonial Theater.
Growing up in a small town lead to some of my most important teenage growing experiences. However, it was also a place that felt stifling at times, and from this came my overwhelming desire to travel and see more of the world. I believe that you are only really living if you feel nervous at least once a day; if you get butterflies and back flips in your stomach and you feel adrenaline pumping through your veins. Traveling and falling in love are the only things that have ever made me feel like this.
I’m addicted to the feeling of living; I’m addicted to adventure, love, those moments of true contentment, euphoria, moments of panic in foreign places, and the nerve of talking to strangers (especially good looking ones). Living in Belfast was isolating, and most of my friends never even thought about the rest of the world; the fact that there were billions of people out there living a completely different existence from their own. Little did I know that my future would not involve graduation, prom, SAT’s, university applications and dorm rooms. My future would not even involve the U.S., let alone a small town in Maine.
Leaving Behind Childhood
When I was 17, we decided to move to Louisiana. On our last day there, I walked through my house, trying to take it all in. It was the first in a few times during my life when I would feel that everything was about to change for me but I couldn’t quite figure out how. As my parents were packing, I dramatically ran all the way down to the MBNA park. It had a big green gazebo that my friends and I would jump off when we were younger, and it was right in front of the water. I watched the boats going by, and the waves slapping against the rocks. I sipped an Italian soda that I had bought at my favorite ice cream shop and silently cried, knowing my childhood had just ended.
I used to sit on these blue steps in our front yard with a Dr. Pepper and write in a notebook covered in rainbow polka dots. I had just discovered the book “The Secret” and I had gotten into “visualization”. I wrote in this notebook everything I envisioned for my future. My mom was watching Oprah one day, as she always did after work, and the author was on the show talking about how the law of attraction had made everything in her life better. They had audience members who explained how “The Secret” had helped them, and there was one woman who talked about how the sex had gone out of her marriage. Her husband was a large man with the voice of Pee Wee Herman so it was easy to see why. Apparently “The Secret” had helped her become attracted to him again and she then gave a detailed overview of how great their sex life was. Amen.
I planned to live in New York City, drive a Mercedes convertible, and I would be the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine. My husband would have bright green eyes and black hair; an artist.
I would travel all over the world.
Did you grow up in a small town? How was the experience for you? Let me know about it in the comments below!
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