Context: I grew up in a small town. Back in the days, the number of citizens maxed out at somewhere around 10,000 (including neighboring communities that got factored in). Today and in 2017, we’re closer to the 20,000 mark. But it’s still a small city compared to the urban centers in my country and still far from numbers of inhabitants most US cities boast.
But – it is – or was it? – about numbers at any point? Possibly not. My version of a possible explanation reads like this: You probably won’t have too hard a time imagining that the number and quality of “excitement(s)” in this small a town was limited growing up in the 70ies and 80ies. The local sports club, the local swimming pool, a number of outdoors activities, your mandatory time with family on weekends and on family vacations, one or the other “odd kid on the block”, a movie theater, a number of cafés and bars in the single digits realm, maybe a weekend outing with the local boy scouts. That was it. Pretty much. (I may have been oblivious to the more interesting stuff going on seeing as I’ve been holing up myself in mold-infested rehearsal rooms for the larger part of my high school years and becoming so religious about wanting to be a professional musician at some point. Speaking of which: “Mold” probably had to stand in for my first encounter with “natural psychoactive drugs” or something…, o.k., with weed being added to that roster shortly thereafter). But I’m digressing. As usual.
The point I’m trying to make is this: I counted the years, months, days until I’d GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE! (the capitals largely on account of my upbringing and bio family). I even signed up for a short contract with my nation’s Army in order to have an income right away after high school and in order to get to make my own decisions. That is how bad I wanted to get the fuck out! And I’ve been staying away for all these decades until…. about eight years ago. (I would have stayed away, though. I’m gonna spare us the details as to why that didn’t exactly work out as “planned”). Long story short: I’ve been finding myself living here, in my original hometown, again for the past year. And what can I say: I met the most interesting, loving, wonderful people I couldn’t have dreamed up if I had wanted to and with a loaded gun pointed at my neck! The experiences and encounters here kind of remind me of a scene with Julianne Moore in the wonderful, though tragic, movie “The Shipping News“, starring the equally wonderful Kevin Spacey and the outstanding Grande Dame Judy Dench! (I’m getting misty just typing her name and thinking of her almost uncanny performance of “Send in the Clowns“… whoa….!). So, the scene I am thinking about is somewhere towards the last third into the aforementioned movie, when Julianne Moore’s character explains to Kevin Spacey’s how she ended up on this patch of land in New Foundland, which can sport four seasons in one day. The bottomline of her monologue there revolves something around the notion that pople on the island embraced her with so much love that she seemed unable to bring herself to leaving. Something like that (and I certainly hope, this wasn’t too big a spoiler…)
Well…. it kind of feels like this in reverse to me. Or maybe it feels exactly like this….
I have been looking for a place to myself for more than two years. My moderate household is stacked in my home folks’ garage with only the most needed things unpacked. I have been looking far and wide and I would have taken any old place so long as it provides the possibility for retreating from the world. But… something else happened. I no longer want to isolate myself from the world. I no longer need all this solitude. I am hungry for encounters, people, chatter, card games, hanging out, being silly, getting drunk… and whatnot. Also: I’m very interested in cultural things. Bottomline: I’m interested in as high a quality of life as possible (not necessarily meaning luxury or high spending). And I seem to find … more than enough of all that where I’m at.
This is a surprise. A big one. I had fooled myself into thinking I’d have to go far away from home to find all these things. And now it turns out they have been at the tip of my nose all along… Guess, I’m grateful. Very grateful for this. (it’s still a surprise. A fat one!)
P.S. I want to give back. I guess, I just volunteered to help save above local movie theater from getting torn down for good. This is going to be a several years-spanning endeavour. And I want to help. As best and as much as I can.