This is a brief departure for facts, scenarios, empirical data and the like. Just a quick, drippy opinion piece on civic pride and what it is.
Anyone who knows me is aware of how important the concept of “place” is to me. The Atlantic Cities (an online publication of The Atlantic magazine) slogan is “Place Matters”. Couldn’t better define how I feel on the matter. Place, not just in the sense of a noun. Place, as what locale you are connected to. Home, a hometown, school, work, a regular meeting spot. Anything. Any locale that is a part of your life and a part of your personality. In high school, we all wanted to get the hell out of our hometown. That seems like common nature amongst angsty teenagers. Especially if you’ve spent your entire life in the same place. You could be in Midtown Manhattan or the Gangam District of Seoul, but in the high school parking lot, “this town is so boring. I’ve gotta get out.” I was always a little different from that norm. I spent my entire life in the same city, just like most of my friends. And I wanted change. I looked forward to college and the life beyond in exciting, bigger cities, like many of my friends. But I had no animosity towards Tampa, my hometown. I planned to visit often in the short term, and ultimately return in the long term. But this is not about Tampa, or my hopelessly romantic love towards it. It’s about hometowns, and about place.
What’s home? Where are you from? Those questions can often evoke confusion. Especially if the answer is preceded by “My dad was in the military”. If you lived in ten different places for no longer than a few years each, where is home, really? Who cares what a hometown is materialized from. The city you were born in, the city you grew up in, the city you currently live in…hell, even the city you went to college in. And I use the word “city”, in a most general sense. Do we connect to the municipal boundaries of our incorporated city? Or, the metro area and its surrounding towns and cities as a whole? Or our entire region? State? Country? Or just our neighborhood. That’s why the answers will always be different. People should be proud of their “hometown”. Whatever “place” they choose to associate with. Maybe it’s more than one. It is for me. Your “place” is a part of what makes you who you are, for better or worse. Take pride. Even if you’ve lived in to many cities, towns and unincorporated census-designated places to ever keep track of, walk outside. Take pride in where you are. Your surroundings. What makes it iconic. What makes it unique.
So if you ever encounter me, remember my three biggest “pet peeves”. First, the term “pet peeve”. Second, loud eaters. Close third…people who respond to the question of where they’re from with a state. Texas is a big place to be from. Russia is a big country. Give me a city. Even if I’ve never heard of it, be proud of it. Remember…place matters.