I am a little bit anxious to share the exact location of my hometown...there are certain factors which make you more anonymous by nature, for example, in Japan, many names resemble each other, or in a big city, the population is big enough to obscure yourself. When you are from a small and diverse place, you are easily identifiable, and with such a unique life it would be even easier to identify me, and so I'll just say my hometown is a quiet suburb of a major city in America.
For many people in many countries, our lifestyle is something to be envious of. From my perspective, the only thing worth talking about is the size of the property and the overall feeling of safety (but believe me, no matter how safe things are, people who want to worry will worry, so I don't really mind a place with a less than perfect crime rate, as long as there isn't much violent crime). The suburbs in America are very lonely. You can go a week without seeing anyone other than the clerk at the supermarket when you drive to the supermarket once a week. I can't imagine working from home there, I'd go crazy. And the commute can be epically long and uncomfortable. I know it's similar in many places but for me being nearby to friends and work and things to do or nature is important.
I think the biggest problem I had with my hometown was that despite not having much to do, there wasn't much PURE nature either. It was mostly houses. We had trees and grass, but it wasn't organic, or it was just tiny patches of woods between housing areas. I just always feel a bit turned off by the idea of a "bed town" unless it can keep the better aspects of both the country and the city, movement and also tranquility. Otherwise I'd rather choose one extreme or the other. Love deep country, love bustling city.
My hometown wasn't a bad place by any means...I suppose it just wasn't for me, at least not at the time, and not now either. We will see how I feel in the future.
I've spent most of my adult life in Asia and I see how unbelievable fast things change. My hometown was DEVELOPED by American standards, but American development and suburban development STOPS at a point. It doesn't keep going like in Asia. Once you have nice houses and nice roads and a few fancy restaurants, it generally stops changing quickly, especially if it's far from the city. It costs a lot of money to develop things in America. That's probably because of the general strength of the currency (we will see what happens with THAT)....It's amazing how little my hometown has changed.
There have been renovations to the high school, town center and library to make them more beautiful. That's just fine. There wasn't much lost in the reconstruction. My town always had a very small center compared to some nearby towns with trains running through them, and so I was never very fond of the neighborhood, other than a few charming old shops.
(My neighborhood was much less uniform than this, not THIS cookie-cutter but same atmosphere overall, some smaller houses mixed with some big houses like these, sorry I have no pictures, I've been gone for so long)
The only things I miss are the old local convenience store which is now much less charming and more commercial looking, and the old movie 2 room theater which was torn down with the construction of a new mega-theater on the highway when I was young. I suppose many of the department stores down that highway popped up while I was young and didn't exist before, but I hardly remember before them, most of our life was built around chain supermarkets, Target, Wallmart, and for food, we were lucky with a variety of local shops, simply because it was a "nice neighborhood".
I'm not sure how it's changed because I haven't been back in 5 years, but from what I hear, the biggest change is the closing of the shopping mall. That was the only place for kids to hang out when I was young other than 7-11. After the huge movie theater opened up most kids would hang out there, after and before movies, or sometimes without watching a movie. A starbucks opened up when I was in high school. In other towns Starbucks destroyed the local cafes, but we didn't have a local cafe so it wasn't a problem.
I wonder if my town became any less judgmental? I know that I am more capable of navigating "normal society" where people want to prove their worth through their cars and their fancy houses. I am sure my confidence, my stories, my ability to relate to people would go a long way there now despite the fact that in their eyes, someone of my economic capacity is poor (even factoring in my bitcoin) and not worthy of their attention.....I don't know if it changed much, but perhaps I'd feel differently about it now and find myself with much more respect than I ever imagined just because I'm better at influencing my environment now.
The biggest change the town had from my parents time to when I was young was the diversity. This is my favorite aspect of my hometown. I grew up with lots of Koreans and Polish and Italians and Jews and Russians and Indians and Chinese. Actually Ango Saxxons were hardly a majority...there was no majority. Sadly not many black or native classmates, but a few.
The thing that bothered me was the way people seemed to still gravitate towards their own race. It wasn't a rule, and there was some mixing but usually each group would have a "token Asian" or "token black" friend. I hung out with the punks and hippies and looking back, it may have been because it was the most diverse and therefore seemed like the most accepting and friendly. My best friends were a mix of Indians and Russian Jews, one half Korean, one Taiwanese, and one or two ango-saxxon "Americans".
In my last year of high school there was one black girl in my class and she was into punk. We ended up pretty close and I have to thank her for crushing all my stereotypes and allowing me to become better at treating people as individuals. There was no overt racism towards her that was observable from the outside, but there were definitely ridiculous stereotypes. "Why don't you like rap?" for example, or assumptions that her family was poor.
That's how race was when I was a kid. It was never a hostile thing but it was always a little awkward, not for me, but for many of the people outside of our open-minded group of misfits. I'm sad to see that it is probably more awkward now than it's ever been, although I think our town does have even more diversity and there are probably a few more open-minded people who can treat people as individuals.
As you can see, I have complicated feelings about my hometown. Most of the people I could relate to there were emotionally unstable, partially because they had no power and could not find a means of forming a sustainable community where they could spread things like compassion and creativity. I found those people in the city, and to a much greater degree among ex-backpackers who had settled down overseas once I left the states.
I feel like everyone needs to leave their hometown once, if not forever. It's the best way to gain perspective of the world. At the same time, I always wish that I wanted to return home one day, but there is nothing there for me other than my parents and thankfully they finally understand that I am much happier elsewhere and they may even be willing to join me after they retire.
I know I talked more about the general feeling of my hometown than how it's changed but that's because it's hardly changed at all other than a little renovation and the political climate of America changing.
If you are from a very different place and have never travelled abroad, feel free to ask me questions. I try to give both the positives and the negatives as honestly as I can :-D
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