I am far from nostalgic about my home town. But it’s still my home town, and I often revisit it in my mind’s eye.
The only places that I mentally revisit with pleasure are the first home that I can remember — where I lived from age 1 to age 7 — and the first of the three red-brick school houses that I attended.
I haven’t been to my home town in four years. The occasion was the funeral of my mother, who lived to the age of 99.
I may not go back again. But it’s still my home town.
I think of it that way not only because I grew up there but also because it’s a “real” place: a small, mostly run-down, Midwestern city with a population of about 30,000 — the largest city in a county that lies beyond the fringes of the nearest metropolitan area.
Perhaps I’m nostalgic about it, after all, because “real” places like my home town seem to be vanishing from the face of America. By real, I mean places where (real) people still work with their hands; live in houses that are older than they are, and have fewer bathrooms than bedrooms; mow their own lawns, clean their own homes, and make their own meals (except when they partake of the American Legion fish fry or go to a Chick-Fil-A); bowl, hunt, fish, stroll their neighborhoods and know their neighbors (who have been their neighbors for decades); read Reader’s Digest, Popular Mechanics, and romance novels; go to bars that lack ferns and chrome; prefer Fox News and country music to NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and hip-hop; go to church and say grace before meals; and vote for politicians who don’t think of real people as racists, ignoramuses, gun nuts, or religious zealots (“deplorables”, in other words).
In fact, America is (or was) those real places with real people in them. And it is vanishing with them.
P.S. I have lived outside the real world of real people for a very long time, but the older I get, the more I miss it.