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 This Week's Stories:

Hometown Isn't Home Anymore

by Tamara Keith, Student Contributor
posted Mar. 11, 1998

This is the time of the year when I usually begin formulating plans for my annual spring break homecoming. I am from Hanford, a small town in California’s Central Valley (just south of Fresno) where there’s really not much to do outside of talking to friends and tipping cows. I guess you could say I don’t exactly go back for the culture and entertainment. The only real reason I make the trek to cow town is to spend time with a small group of close friends.

Because my parents followed me to Berkeley, I don’t really have a home in my hometown anymore. In past years the homecoming has been a pretty big deal for both me and my friends, but each visit I seem to phone fewer and fewer people. When I left for college, all of my teachers and most of my acquaintances said they would keep in touch. I’m sure we all had good intentions, but I’ve only kept correspondence going with three people.

This spring break, I’m not going back to visit and I doubt I ever will again. You see, a lot has changed since I packed the mini-van and drove up to Berkeley. I have changed, my friends have changed, and the small town I grew up in has changed (since I left they got a Walmart, their fourth gas station, and a new stoplight). When everyone is moving in different directions at the same time, the void of common understanding widens at an amazing rate. Before long all of my conversations with old friends were about old times. I am only 18. This shouldn’t be happening already.

It seems that going away to college is just like any other life transition; you don’t always want to hang on to the past. When I was still living in Hanford, people came and went all the time but it never seemed like a very big deal. Whenever anyone moved away, only one or two people ever really kept in touch. As important as I may have seemed to be, life in Hanford went on pretty well without my presence. With the exception of a few of the good memories held in the minds of my closest friends, it’s as if I had never even lived there.

My hometown just doesn’t feel like home anymore. For a long time I felt guilty about not keeping strong ties with the place that had nurtured me. Now I realize that what happened to Hanford and me is a natural occurrence. When things in your life change, it’s impossible to hold on to what you had or to make things go back to the way they used to be. This flux is constantly occurring around us. It’s only when the spotlight hits you square on the nose or when you’re able to step back and look at all the changes that a normal existence begins to seem out of whack.

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