I’ve been living in Los Angeles for about three months now, and I’ve realized that I love my hometown.
I have lived in Memphis, Tennessee for my entire life. Before I left, I always thought it was boring – too small, too Southern, and too full of people I already knew. Now, though, I love it for everything I used to hate it for. And I miss it for things I never really noticed before.
I miss the way the leaves change color in the fall. I miss surprise downpours. I miss how ungodly hot it gets in the summer. I miss how freakishly cold it gets in the winter. I miss how empty the streets are at night. I miss sprinting to my car after swim practice in the winter. I miss late night movies. I miss unlimited tea refills at Casablanca. I miss the Roy Good hardware store near my house. I miss running in Overton Park. I miss my neighborhood. I miss the drive to school. I miss the public library. I miss the Fred’s discount superstore. I miss all the golf courses I never visited. I miss Kroger. I miss driving with no destination in mind. I miss Midtown. I miss the St. Jude half-marathon. I miss Overton Square. I miss backyards. I miss knowing where everything is in the city. I miss every local restaurant. I miss the people I’ve known for my entire life. I even miss Germantown, just a little bit.
Some of these things are direct results of now living in a place where the temperature is always seventy degrees and it has rained exactly twice since the beginning of August. But most of these things are specifically Memphis.
Maybe it’s because of the city itself. Maybe it’s because Memphis is all I really know. Maybe it’s because Memphis is so closely tied to every good memory I have, it’s hard to separate them sometimes. Maybe it’s because Memphis is a physical representation of a period of my life I’ve outgrown and can never return to. Who knows?
We can pretend as much as we want growing up that our physical location doesn’t mean anything, but the truth of the matter is that it does, whether we want it to or not. And whether that place is New York City or Los Angeles or a mid-sized city in west Tennessee, we’ll all feel some sort of longing when we leave it.
I wish I’d appreciated Memphis more when I really lived there. I wish I hadn’t thought I was too cool to like living in the 25th biggest city in the U.S. I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry to leave.
To everybody living in a place they think they don’t like: notice the little things. Your favorite coffee shop, your route to school, the way the front of your house looks. Because these are the things that are going to slam into you and knock the wind out of your lungs one day when you’re sitting in your dorm, staring out the window at a busy intersection across a college campus.