Wow. I found internet. At the one Starbucks in town. Seriously. There is only ONE Starbucks in this whole city. Wild, considering there are three within two miles of my house, and five if you are willing to go three miles out. Anyhoo, the reach of the internet now includes my hometown, apparently, and thankfully. As I am reminded on a constant basis here, this is a different world. different from where I live now, and different from what it was when I first left, nearly 20 years ago.
I took a nice 4-mile jaunt around the neighborhood where I grew up this morning, if by nice you mean sweltering, moist and somewhat depressing. It did reinforce to me how big things seem when you are little, and I realized that my entire existence up until I was about 14 all happened within a mile of my house. My elementary school is about a third of mile in one direction, the junior high is half a mile (maybe, if you didn't take the wobbly bridge over the canal/irrigation ditch) in another. And yet all these places I ran to this morning easily, and kept going past them, by a long stretch, to get to my 4-mile goal.
The immediate area where my parents still live definitely has seen better days; I don't know that it was ever necessarily a good area to start off with, but it is what it is. There is graffiti on street signs, and weedy lawns in front of dilapidated houses sit in stark contrast to $30,000 cars parked in the driveways, or on the streets in front. I can guarantee there are houses in my parents' neighborhood where you have three or more generations crammed into a 1200-sq foot house, without air conditioning or health insurance or dental care, but hey, they've got a 50-inch widescreen with digital cable, so what more do you need? There are girls who are maybe 18 or 19, with two or three kids already, by different men, all of whom are at least 10 years older than the high school girls they courted. There are folks who enroll in the community college for one semester, then drop out, because, hey, they have a job already, at the Wal-Mart, or at the mall, and hey, what more do you need? You don't want to get too big for your britches, y'know, or think that you're better than everyone else by going away to college, and waiting until you can afford them to have kids.
And then there is my Mom, and her health, and the general state of healthcare where she lives, which isn't much different than what it is in DFW, or in any poor areas around the country, where people don't have a primary care doctor, and they're not just obese, but morbidly so, and they only show up in the ER when they stroke out or are so far advanced with their diabetes or hypertension, or cancer or whatever, that it's too late to do anything to help them. And then they talk about how y'know they were OK until they went to the hospital, and then the hospital made them sick, and if they'd only not gone to the ER... But that's how people around here think, the same people that say if you lose weight, you must be sick, because why would you want to be on a diet??
There are so many things that I run from when I come here. This is why I don't come here. My past, my roots, my beginnings are all here in front of me, and I can't reconcile them with who I am now. I run and I run and I run, and at the end, I can't get away from where I was born, where I grew up, where I learned to be who I am, at my core. I run and I run, but at the end, no matter how many marathons I run, or how many degrees I earn, or how much money I make, at the end of the day, I still am just this girl from the Valley.