Where you love somebody a whole lot, and you know that person loves you, that’s the most beautiful place in the world. (From The Most Beautiful Place In The World by Ann Cameron)
I love my home town. Love it. I honestly can’t think of a single place I would rather call home. Strangely, I often hear people lament that there is nothing to do here. Sometimes they look at me like I’m crazy when I say I love it here, that I hope we can live here forever. “What is there to do?” they ask.
Here’s what we do here, in this town:
We stroll the paths of the city zoo at dusk while a jazz band plays in the pavilion and the sky melts into watercolor pastels.
We take our son to art classes at the local museum and dramatic readings at the public library and watch his love of art and literature blossom before us.
We take blues dancing lessons and find that we are terrible at it.
We drive just about an hour in one direction to hand feed animals at a petting farm and just about an hour in another direction to pluck fresh blackberries from thorny bushes.
We bake pies and share them with friends.
We visit the planetarium and learn about the stars and then when the children are in bed we sneak outside to trace the constellations we’ve learned. Crickets and cicadas serenade our stargazing dates.
We see classic movies at a gorgeous 70-year-old theater and enjoy live piano music at intermission.
We watch a bubble artist create enormous bubbles in a down town park while our children squeal with delight.
We climb into a large plastic bin at the winery and squish grapes beneath our bare feet.
We build a fire in the back yard and make hundreds of s’mores with dozens of friends, talking the way people do when the night and the firelight diminish inhibitions. We hear our friends’ deep hopes and secret nagging fears and we share with them our own.
We sleep in on weekends and enjoy pancakes and bed head.
We settle in at church with people who have known us long and loved us.
We follow our favorite food trucks around like addicts, waiting in ridiculous lines for a feast in a paper bowl.
We drag our quilts and folding chairs up the hill of the university to watch movies they project on the side of a building while we enjoy picnics and popcorn and the laughter of our community.
We drive the roads between our own home and the homes of our friends and family over and over until we could drive them asleep. We strap the kids in their car seats in the dark, hear their breathing change on the way home and then we carry them inside to their beds.
We pass the schools we grew up in and the church where we met. We find our own history in parks and churches, streets, schools, restaurants and theaters. Here is where we became friends. And there is where he first held my hand in the snow. This is the town where we grew in love and married and had our babies. This is the town that gave us our friends and our teachers. This has been both launch pad and landing site.
And I suppose the truth is these things could have happened anywhere. If we had been born somewhere else, we would have launched from some other place and we would have loved in other ways other people. But we were born here and we grew up here. And it is in this place that we love somebody a whole lot and we know with great conviction that we are loved in return. To quote the inimitable Ray Bradbury, “In what way then was the town special? Why, I was born there. It was my life.” The most beautiful place in the world (and with plenty to do, thank you very much).