Why We Need to Love Our Hometown
October 12, 2018
After a twenty-four hour drive up the Coast, I arrived in Connecticut, with nothing but contempt simmering in my young stomach. I’d only spent four years in Florida, (compared with eight in New England); however, having spent my formative pre-teenage years there, anything different felt wrong. If entering eighth grade could not have been horrid, torturous, and uncomfortable enough, my fervent anger towards my surroundings exacerbated that transition tenfold.
As seemingly endless weeks passed; as grading quarters finished; as the air grew warmer, my resistance to enjoying the simplicity around me began to thaw. The blooming flowers allowed for the love of my town to blossom, yet no one else seemed to share my joy. I understand now, that remaining stagnant among the same 7,000 people and the same peers at school becomes tiresome. What bugs me then and now, is how so many of my peers find annoyance with our school and community– that it’s strict, that it’s uneventful, that it’s too homogenous– and how so little seem to focus on all that we are so fortunate to be given. In school, we have (almost entirely) teachers that want nothing but for our success as students and as morally competent people. They provide individualized attention and a reliable support system, from which we are all promised prosperity. In our peers, we are immersed in a community of intelligent, loving people. Like any high school, there are catty girls, cocky guys, self-pitying freaks, and pretentious geeks, but even within the people of those minorities, we all share the desire for a sense of community. Now we focus our lens beyond the walls of Lyme-Old Lyme High School, and into all of the gems tucked within Lyme and Old Lyme, both natural and of man. Lyme is crisscrossed with weaving nature trails and roads that create corridors of aching tree limbs. A ride down Route 156 leads you into beach colonies, river sunsets, and overlooks upon rich marshes and the expansive horizon, leading into the infinite sea. There is beauty all around.
The sense of community at Lyme-Old Lyme High School is something I have not experienced at any other school. I have attended schools in Groton, Pawcatuck, and Florida, and they all lacked the unity that I find here. Groton, Pawcatuck, and one of the schools I went to in Florida, all had such a large student body that a true, deep sense of family could not be achieved; there simply were too many of us for our class to exist as a unified entity. Even in the Sarasota private school, though, where there were only eighty kids or less in each grade, we struggled to find a commonality that could wrap us up into a bunch. Cliques were much too exclusive, new kids immediately fell to the bottom of the pile, and the average income of a family provided an inherent, underlying division between us all.
I suppose it could be argued that all of these issues prevail in our little, rural high school; but even so, none are so pervasive that it creates an infectious tension between individuals and between social groups. Everyone welcomes newcomers, and at least one social group will immediately absorb them into their circle. For me, it has been difficult to dread going to school for a social reason.
06371 might be the most beautiful zip code area in New England. When I first got my driver’s license, all I did was take unnecessarily long routes from my little corner in Lyme and down to the shore. Grassy Hill Road especially makes my soul glimmer; it has a winding bend that sneaks quietly through a gilded field, a minimal collection of headstones, and by a simple congregational church. Down near Tiffany Farm, a subtle turnoff leads me down a path that can make even the locals feel helplessly lost, until I find myself at an expansive opening. Uncas Lake rests in divine slumber below, hardly disturbed by the wind, where generations swim within the love. Even in my own neighborhood, I feel an inundation of love and peace for existence itself on my walks and drives on and just off Joshuatown Road. Around each bend is a new sweeping canopy of trees, a new glittering stream. At times I go even further and go all the way to the beach at the bottom of our town. Waves curl and crash in jubilance upon my feet, even when the sky is washed out and dreary; I am always reminded of from whence I came… from the beach where my mom used to collect driftwood (she trudged a half mile in the assaulting snow storm with a soaked and weathered tree trunk). As I walk along the sound, the sinking sun stretches out the sky into sanguine hues. I always feel the effortless splendor pouring in and around my bones.
You may not believe me, but even here, boredom is a feeling I have yet to know the pleasure of.
Even if you feel so helplessly bored, so achingly, wearily bored, know that it results from a great fortune. You have been granted the immense pleasure and gift of familiarity, community, and unity, all in a place where the simple act of existing can be enjoyed. Acknowledge your gift, and love it. Love your gift, and share it.
I implore you to breathe in the joy.