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I grew up in a small town and hated it. So many days I’d be bored out of my mind, wanting desperately to live in a big city. I’d beg my mom to take me to Corpus, which wasn’t exactly a big city but was the closest one to us, with a mall, 3 movie theaters, and a Barnes N Noble.
Looking back, though, I realize just how lucky I was
I remember the sense of boundlessness as I roamed my town by bike, roller blades, or on foot, making sculptures in the sand dunes, exploring my neighbor’s backyard (which we called the jungle, boasting multiple koi ponds framed by lush elephant ears), and coasting down impossibly steep driveways.
One day my friend Lee Ann and I discovered a huge pond, even bigger than my neighbor’s, filled with goldfish and catfish the length of my arm. We’d sometimes make silly dares like touching the catfish’s barbs or jumping into the pond. An aura of intrigue the pond, shimmering on the lily pads.
We had no clue who lived in the house behind the pond. I assumed it was a vacation home—this was common, since we lived on the coast.
In fact, these vacation homes became popular hangouts. Another home was raised on pilings, allowing us to explore the bed of lava rocks underneath. We’d often have rock-throwing contests.
Strangely, nobody said anything. Until one day…
We were testing how far we could hurl the rocks into the field across the street when a woman’s voice called down to us from the neighboring houses’s window.
“I told you kids to stay away from there!” she hollered.
Which, as far as I knew, wasn’t true. Still, we made moves to leave, though not fast enough for her.
And then, maybe it was my overactive imagination, but I swear she said:
“If you don’t leave right this second, I’m gonna get my gun!”
We bolted down the street, sprinting the whole mile or so to Lee Ann’s house. We arrived drenched in sweat, panting.
“Girls, are you okay?” asked her mom.
“Oh yeah,” we replied. “We were just having a race.”
We were afraid we’d get in trouble if she found out we were trespassing on someone’s property. Although the lady’s reaction was way out of proportion with the “crime,” something about the intensity of the threat made me feel like I’d done something terribly wrong. This didn’t stop me, though, from throwing a rock through the lady’s garage window on a dare a month or so later. I still remember how the crack splintered outwards like the legs of a spider.
The most potent memories had an ominous tinge to them
Like my friend Abby and I hanging out in her dad’s garage, making sawdust and grass concoctions in styrofoam cups while we told stories of clowns with chainsaws making “human hamburgers.”
Or weaving legends around Mrs. Easum, our neighborhood Boo Radley. Walking past her house, the temperature always seemed to drop a few notches. I’d never seen her in person, just heard her voice thundering down occasionally (ok, maybe once) like the voice of God, further adding to the intrigue.
The grass is always greener on the other side…or is it?
As a kid, my town seemed like the most boring place on the face of the earth.
By contrast, where I live now—Los Angeles—has an infinite amount of things to do. But people who’ve been here for a while (myself included) complain endlessly about the traffic, crowds, high prices, etc.
There’s the multiple natural parks, with magnificent hills that allow you to simultaneously walk amongst the trees and wildflowers while enjoying dazzling views of the city skyline. Or buildings that pop out of nowhere, or the way architecture (and economic status) changes abruptly from one street to the next.
If you look closely, every place contains pockets of wonder and mystery.
You just have to keep your eyes open and be receptive.
Also, things that seem mundane now might seem magnificent in retrospect. The passage of time has the power to transform our perspective.
What is something (or someplace) that you have grown to appreciate over time?