Hometown girl


She was going home.

College and grown-up life had kept her away for more than seven years. She called her parents every Sunday, and stayed in contact with a few high school friends who never moved away, but it wasn’t the same.

She missed the late nights cruising main street with her girls, Friday home games when the whole town came out to cheer on their Red Raiders, and hot, summer Saturdays at Tyler’s creek, skinny dipping with Chase.

Living in the city, she felt disconnected and alone. She had made a few friends, but it wasn’t like the bonds she had with the people she grew up knowing.

As soon as she turned off the highway, she felt something was very wrong. The familiar grain silos and open fields dotted with red Guernsey cows were gone. In their place were asphalt parking lots and strip centers full of pizza parlors and hair salons.

The flashing red light at the intersection in the middle of town was now a full, four-way traffic tree with merge lanes and turn arrows.

When her constant rubbernecking almost caused her to rear-end a Honda Civic at Parris Boulevard and 18th Street, it was time to pull over and get her bearings.

Despite the growling of her empty stomach, she couldn’t bring herself to go through the drive-thru of the Zaxby’s that wasn’t there when she left. It was sacrilegious to have a fast food restaurant peddling prefab chicken when Miss Pearl fried up the best drumsticks in the four-county region.

She began to worry that maybe after driving all night, she took the wrong exit, and she wasn’t in Collierville after all. Pulling into a parking spot at the back of the restaurant lot, she called her dad.

“Hey, Punkin’! You almost here?”

His cheeriness only made her agitation worse. Near tears, she confessed that she was lost. After giving him a description of where she was, he tried to let her down easy.

“Sweetheart, did you really expect time to stand still?”

“Yes, Dad, I did! I don’t recognize anything. My hometown has disappeared. You told me a few things were different, but nothing is the same. It’s like being stranded in a foreign country, and not knowing anyone.”

“Different isn’t wrong, Punkin’, it’s just different. Give it a chance. I’ll come meet you and we can have lunch.”

“Is Miss Pearl still around?”

“She sure is and she’d love to see you again.”

“Let’s go there. At least that’s one thing that hasn’t changed. They still have football on Friday nights, don’t they?”

“Homecoming game is tonight.”

“Of course, it is.”

Week 2: Inspired by “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” ~ L. P. Hartley: The Go-Between (1953)
This week’s Studio30 Plus prompt is “Time,” and/or “Parasite.”

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

18 thoughts on “Hometown girl

  1. I love how smoothly you blend the past and the present. I know how she feels. Every time I return to my teenage home, I get lost too. I can’t even point out what’s what anymore. Thanks for the nostalgia.


  2. Aww, poor girl, that’d be quite a shock. I have trouble imagining that kind of small town change, since the biggest change in my grandmother’s small town in the past 15 years was the addition of a Tim Hortons (their first chain store) about 5 years ago.


  3. Loved this sweet yet sad tale Tara:-)I have just returned from a short stay at my home town and though some things are still the same,most have undergone a face lift at least.I remember one of my friends & classmates lamenting at the change of school uniform when we visited school-she was upset though I thought the new one looked smart:-)Yes,we all can relate to the pain and angst in this girl’s heart!


  4. I haven’t been to my hometown in a very long time and I don’t miss it…but I know if I drove back into town it would be like having cold water thrown on me, “that was never there before!” and “this place doesn’t look like the Carbondale I grew up in.”

    I love reading stories like this one because it’s NOT relatable to me. I didn’t grow up with Football on Friday nights or in the South. *wink* Yet, after college it was more of an emotional return to my stomping grounds…not a physical one. I came back, bandaged instead of broken and that was the moment I realized that sometimes you can’t go home and sometimes you shouldn’t…you DON’T have to.

    of course I loved this, you write the South like no one else. It’s actually comforting to me.


    1. When my husband and I got married, immediately after our honeymoon we moved 200 miles away from my hometown, then ten years later we moved 500 miles further away to Florida. I don’t get “home” very often, but when I do, I recognize it less and less. It’s like it is literally disappearing from the earth, replaced by some foreign land I don’t know. It is very disorienting trying to find my way around town without my familiar landmarks.

      It’s not my hometown any longer, and that is very sad to me.


  5. I have actually felt this way. The only thing that hasn’t changed in my town, where I grew up is my mom’s house. Even my bedroom (other than all her craft stuff filling it up) is like a John Cusack movie – all my drawings and posters left intact on the walls. I connect with this story… I get lost now in the new streets where once stood an untouched forest.


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