Friday, January 20, 2012

My Town...


We went for a visit recently to my parent's house in Thatcher, where I grew up.  I always get this sort of melancholy feeling when I drive into that place.  So many memories flood back, and I feel as if I never really left.  Thats what happens when you grow up in a small town, it stays with you.  As we drive through Pima, where I lived until the 8th grade, I rememeber so many friends, so many happy childhood memories.  Things that I tell my kids everytime we pass through, but I have never written them down, so here it goes.  These are some memories of my town growing up...Stupid things, really, but happy memories nonetheless, and if I don't write them, like everything else, they will be fleeting moments, easily forgotten in time.

When I was young, we lived in a house on Alder Lane.  We didn't ever have much money growing up, but we found things to do in spite of that, and I don't ever remember feeling deprived as a child of anything.  We didn't have videogames, or ipods, but we managed to have fun anyway (shocker, huh?).  We spent our days doing crazy things, like criss-crossing in the ditch by our house, or swimming or crawdad fishing in the canal, or finding the mulberry bush in the summer that was always ripe with berries, or playing in one of our neighbors barns on the haystacks.  I remember when they used to crop dust the field by our house, and I would wake up and hear the crop dusters and know that for the next few days I would be struggling to keep my eyes open because I was allergic to something in the chemicals.  Seriously...my eyes would swell shut!  But I also remember being grateful at the same time for those stupid crop dusters, since they would dramatically reduce the number of bugs in our house due to the proximity of said fields! Our house was on an acre of land, and we loved all of the animals my dad had.  At any one time we had chickens, cows, pigs, horses, roosters, goats, once, we even raised a duck, who thought he was a chicken, and would try to jump the hens in the yard.  Pretty funny. I remember summers where I couldn't sleep due to the hundred mosquito bites I had from staying outside ALL DAY until it got dark.  Somehow, no matter how long we had been outside playing, we were always upset when mom called us to come in.  Now, I think my kids go days without leaving the house in the summer! We always spent our days outside, even in the summer.  We would get wet, in the hose or the canal, but we didn't like to play inside. I remember finally turning 8, meaning I was old enough to take the bike ride to the public pool, a few miles from our house with my sisters.  What a sense of freedom that was to be able to stay at the pool all afternoon and play with my friends!  I was always so exhausted on the ride home, I could barely make it to the top of a huge hill we had to get up to get back.  Junior high, for me was a turning point, and I started to test the waters, and rebel a bit.  There were a few not so great boyfriends, (one of which was a "skater"--oooh, red flag), some attitude problems on my part, and some bad habits like lying to my parents, sneaking out with my friends, and language problems as well.  My parents recognized this (thank goodness for me--later I found out my mom had read my journal, I was so embarassed by some of the terrible things I wrote in there, man I was a brat!), and much to my distress, decided to move our family to Thatcher in the 8th grade. 

The move from Pima to Thatcher, though these two towns are 4 miles apart, was a drastic one for me.  The two towns are rival towns, in sports and everything else.  Looking back on that rivalry as an adult, it seems kind of stupid, but it was all too real back then.  People from Pima hated people from Thatcher, and vice versa.  When I moved, I will never forget the first day at my new junior high.  I had kind of a crappy attitude about the whole move, and couldn't believe that my parents had actually gone through with it.  I was pretty ticked off about the whole thing, and had quite a chip on my shoulder.  I remember walking through the halls, and to me, it seemed as if everyone was giving me a dirty look, and I was saying to myself, "great, they already hate me".  My friends from Pima wouldn't talk to me either, even though I had no choice in the move, they took it personally, like I was moving because I was too good for them or something.  I couldn't open my locker, and after a few tries, I kicked it and swore, pretty loudly.  You should have seen the looks I got then--oh my, apparently, the kids here weren't as rough as the group of friends I had left behind, they acted as if they had never heard that word.  Thatcher was a few miles away, but a different world apparently! Truth be told, that move saved me.  I found a new group of friends who were such a great influence in my life. My attitude changed, my outlook on life changed, and I was able to pull it together and get things straight before high school.

My high school years were spent playing sports, dating a great guy, and making memories that were amazing and priceless.  It's true that in a small town, you have to make up things to do for fun.  That being said, I think me and my friends were pretty good at it.  We spent nights "cruising main street", where you drive up and down the street, hang out the windows, play your music loud, and talk to people who are driving by.  We spent nights playing games, or watching movies at people's houses.  We spent nights driving around town, or out in the desert, too fast, and almost flipping the car sometimes on the dirt roads.  Sometimes I think it's a wonder that I lived through those years--when we did so many stupid things in cars--now that I have a teenage driver, I find myself giving her advice based on the many stupid things I have done, or have seen others do in a car. It's true that when you are a teenager, you feel invincible. I sure did.  All through high school, I did have a boyfriend, but we seemed to keep each other in line, and out of trouble.  Luckily, he was one of the nicest guys I have ever known, and some of my best high school memories were with him.  The best memories, hands down were with my girlfriends though. We spent our summers, almost every night at the church ballpark, where we either played or watched softball games.  I loved going there, and being with all my friends.  It was quite the social event. The school year kept us busy with sports events (which EVERYONE came to--whether you played or not, since it was something to do), and school dances, which we had almost every Friday night. After the dances we would almost always end up at Sonic, staying there until it closed and we had to go home, since it was always the last thing in town to stay open. We had study parties when there were hard tests, where we loaded up on No-Doze and studied until our eyes couldn't stay open, and we had pity parties when we needed them where we loaded up on Chocolate and ice cream.  The best were the slumber parties, where we stayed up all night, and laughed until we cried or peed out pants (both of which have happened to me).  Ha!  Even though I know there are bad things that happen in small towns, as well as good things, it seemed like I was pretty naive about them until I looked back later.  When you're not out looking for trouble--you don't find it.  Sure, there was the occasional broken heart when there was a break-up, or frustration with a coach, or trouble in school, but the majority of my memories of high school are the fun and laughter I shared with good friends.  I will always treasure those memories.

Yes, I grew up in a sleepy little town.  But it was my town.  My people.  Even after living in the valley for almost 20 years now, there is a part of me that will always be that small town girl.  And even though I have become quite accustomed to the convenience, and busyness of city life, a part of me when I drive through that town, longs for the slower pace, the friendly atmosphere that a small town brings.  Almost 20 years ago, I left my town, to move on to bigger and better things, but I'm not sure if my town will ever leave me.  It will always hold a special place in my heart, and a thousand more memories that I haven't shared here (some of which I probably will NEVER share, haha!).  That's what happens when you grow up in a small town...it stays with you.  It's part of who I am, who I will always be, and for that, I'm grateful.

On a lighter note--here are some pictures of our visit to said town, we sure love it there!:

 I did Abby's hair the last day--it looks quite awesome I think!
 Here he is--Koda is still alive and well!  Those boys sure love him, and everyone wanted to bring him home, but my parents would be lost without him.  My dad shares his Oreos with that dog--now THAT is love.

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