One night early this week, I arrived back in what I’ve long called my hometown.
It feels good.
Born in Galesburg, Illinois, I spent the first fourteen years of my life living on farms in nearby communities, then moved to the ‘Burg for what stretched day-by-day into more than 30 years.
These days, I make my home on the banks of a big lake in the middle of Missouri. My parents and many other family members still live in Galesburg.
As I write this, I am sitting in a relative’s home, looking out on a tree-lined street, hearing the sounds of train whistles in the background.
This morning as I pulled out of my parents’ drive to go to a local grocery store for luncheon provisions – and caffeine and chocolate to cure my anticipated mid-afternoon slump – I ran into an old friend at the store, a frequent occurrence in the ‘Burg, but infrequent in my new community. There I may stumble upon new friends, occasionally. Old, not so much.
It felt right.
As I drove on the street named after my hometown’s native son, Carl Sandburg, two Stearman biplanes, in town for the community’s annual fly-in, crossed overhead.
Boy, do I love that sight!
Then, turning down one of the major north-south residential thoroughfares, Broad Street, I saw a runner, a pair of women walking and talking, and a couple of bikers.
Galesburg is that kind of place.
Its streets are a welcoming environment for exercise. It does the heart good and I’m not just talking the physical benefits.
From Broad, I turned off on one of the city’s few one-way streets (I still love that about Galesburg – that it doesn’t have many), and traveled it for a couple blocks until I reached the street where we had our first home. It –and the neighborhood – are different, but still the same. I’d still choose that street – maybe even that house – as a place to call home.
I also passed Ronald Reagan’s childhood school, just steps from the home where my parents and I lived when we moved to Galesburg, and smiled as I continued my travels and I saw that a neighborhood corner still held a barber shop. I smiled even more when I saw that the barber whose name is on the building these days is the granddaughter of the man who gave my husband the best cuts he ever had and has cut my dad’s hair for about four decades.
As I sit here writing, I hear some of the same sounds I hear in my new community – a lawn mower, a dog barking, the purr of a Harley passing by – and there are sounds I don’t hear, such as a duck quacking, geese honking or a jetski flying too fast down the cove.
I like those sounds, too, and that place, but it sure is nice once in a while to come back here, where my mother still turns down the covers before I go to sleep and my dad makes room in the garage for my car.
There are lots of reasons I still love my hometown – and those two people rank right up there at the top of the list.
It feels like home.
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012