I was sitting in a shopping mall food court when it happened. My son was in the restroom, washing the pizza sauce off his face, I had just pulled out my phone to check Facebook while I waited, and suddenly...
I was sitting on my bed in my room in the house I grew up in, music swirling around me, knees hugged to my chest as I closed my eyes and dreamed about the day I'd be leaving the dust of my small town behind me, living and traveling and wringing every second out of it. No more small town life. No more small town people wanting small dreams for me. No more.
I didn't even realize I was singing along with the mall muzak until I heard the guy at the table next to me doing the same, much to the embarrassment of his wife and teenage son. It's kind of hard not to on that one - the song was "Life in a Northern Town" by Dream Academy (yes, the original version, not the cover by Sugarland) and the chorus pretty much demands that you sing along.
But I remember when I was young, and how I longed for more than the small town life I was living.
And I couldn't help but smile because younger me would be destroyed if she saw me now - living in a small town, raising my kids there. Hell, I deliberately chose it, for just that reason.
I'm older and wiser and lived a little more of my life now. For all its strictures, that small town life I reflect on now comes with a whole lot of good memories of Homecoming parades through the center of town, county fairs and knowing everyone in school even if they weren't in your circle of friends, of walking to school and riding my bike all over town, swimming at the local pool and fireworks in the park on the 4th of July.
I wanted that same vibe for my kids, but tempered with a view of the outside world - something I didn't get much growing up. We're an hour from a major city, and we go there for museums, for concerts, for theatre. I've taken the kids to New York a few times already and now that they're older, I'm looking into some international travel, as soon as money permits.
We watch travel shows, documentaries and movies about places all over the world, and when my daughter told me she wants to backpack around Europe someday, I wanted to turn cartwheels. Yes!! I want my kids to want adventure! I want kids to live life with an endless curiosity about life and people and the world around them.
And someday, maybe, they'll hear a song and travel back in time and the memories will be good. So very good. Memories of being safe in a warm bed in house of love, with their big dreams and music all around them.
Now if you'll excuse me...I'm going to my room now.