“How strange it is to view a town you grew up in, not in wonderment through the eyes of youth, but with the eyes of a historian on the way things were.”
~ Marvin Allan Williams
A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with a former high school classmate. We discussed a variety of things, but the one topic we seemed to discuss most was growing up in and returning to the Valley. Not only that, but the realization we had both come to that we now had a responsibility to be the change we want to see.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find a teenager who loves their hometown. That was me as I was growing up. I couldn’t wait to graduate high school and leave Saratoga in my rear view mirror. After a year in college and nearly two years in Montana and California, my hometown was on my horizon. In my early 20s, I continued to plot my “escape” while also spending more money than I technically had at the bars.
I can’t say for certain when I came to the realization that the Valley would be home. Maybe it was when my wife and I began dating nearly seven years ago. It could have been when my son was born nearly six years ago. What I do know is that by the time I began working for the newspaper, I had made up my mind that this is where I would put down roots.
My classmate had come to a similar realization. Though they had left the Valley for several years, they found their way back. Until recently, they thought it was a temporary stop before returning to the wider world. It seems that, for some of us, home has a way of keeping us here.
Despite the fact that Millennials now range in age from mid-20s to late-30s, most of us seem to struggle with the fact that we are officially adults. I can’t say for certain why this is, but I do know that when I’m speaking with someone who is either Generation X or a Baby Boomer, I don’t quite feel grown up. Being an adult in your hometown appears to exacerbate this feeling. How hard do you work to come out from under the image that people have of you, or that you have of yourself, from when you were growing up?
While some of us seemed to have taken the hint earlier than others, it is now dawning on many of us who have either stayed in or returned to our hometown that we are now adults. We have a role in our community, if we want it. We are business owners, teachers, cooks, bartenders, newspaper publishers and more. If we want to see change, we are obligated to be involved.
The days of sitting around and complaining about the decisions the adults are making are over.
The Valley is obviously something worth investing in. How many small businesses are sprouting up on an annual basis? How many other people our age have moved to the Valley and decided it is the place they want to be? How many of them have actively taken a role in it?
Maybe this column is as much for me as it is for anyone else who has wondered if they have a role in their community. We can’t wait for an open invitation so we might as well get started now.