The more my hometown remains the same. We pulled into town about 3:30 yesterday afternoon. I'll admit to feelings of nostalgia as I entered the familiar landscape. Once a Texas girl, always a Texas girl. I did resist singing Texas, Our Texas as we crossed the Red River this trip. An urge I am not always able to conquer.
I arrived in time to finish watching my college team make it to the Sweet Sixteen. My dad, who is also an alumni, and I were on edge to the final seconds and the winning baskets. My sister who lives in town also arrived with her three kids. She had invited me to join her family at a St. Patrick's Day party hosted by some of their friends. Soccer Boy and I took her up on the invitation. Swim Chick and Gym Girl knew that all the other kids would be much younger, so they passed and stayed home to help my mom babysit my youngest nephew.
A number of the people at the party were actually classmates of mine. It was fun catching up with them, though I did see them recently at our class reunion. We had a great time, but I was reminded of why I needed, yes, really needed, not to move back here after college. People were still talking about the same people we talked about in high school. The gossip-mill runs fast and deep in small towns. Reputation is everything, and it's hard to get beyond a bad one. The social scene is also very tight-knit with prominent families intermarrying. As my brother said, "It's like all these people woke up one morning at 27 or 28 years old and said, 'Well, I guess it's time to marry someone suitable and take over the running of this town from our parents.'" I do really like my sister's group of friends, though, because, while they are also pretty well-connected in their own right, they have incorporated some of the newcomers to town, particularly those who are professionals--a couple of physicians and the newspaper editor for example. This group is also more ethnically, if not socioeconomically, diverse than is typical in "these parts."
Today we went to church at the church where I grew up, was confirmed, and was married. After lunch we watched more basketball; I finished up a work project I had brought along; the kids played outside with their cousins, and we visited my great-aunt who recently turned 95. Tonight, Soccer Boy is spending the night across the street with my grandmother. One of the things I do regret about living so far from here is that my kids do not have the opportunity to see their great grandmother, great-great aunt, and grandparents almost daily like their cousins do. It's why I make it a point to return several times a year. I want them to grow up hearing the same old family stories and laughing at the adventures of long-ago children as I did when I was a kid. That sense of family and the ties binding me to my own personal history are in a large part what has made me what I am today. My hope is that in 30 years my own children can say the same thing.