I can’t actually say that I’m from a small town. I wasn’t born in one, I didn’t go to school with the same kids from kindergarten to high school. But I did grow up in one, I spent over 6 years of my adolescence in a small town. It shaped who I was and what I thought I wanted out of life. It made me who I am. The town and the people in it.
This past weekend I was supposed to have a book signing in Houston, it got rescheduled due to the weather. We were already in Houston when we found this out. So T, Stoli, and I decided to go ahead and stay the night and hang with some of our favorite people. The kids played, the adults laughed and drank wine. Then the next day, I went “home”.
You see between Houston and Austin, if you take HWY 290, you’ll drive through this town I grew up in. It has a massive football stadium, you can’t miss it 😉. My favorite teacher lives in the area and we made plans to meet up. I was so beyond excited to see her. She was always telling me to write, always giving me journals and encouraging me. She’s amazing, the best. And I got to introduce my little girl to her. It was a moment I will cherish, always. Plus, she loved my kid as much as she loved me, so I know I’ll get to see her more often now.
I hope everyone has a person in their lives like that. A person who’s words and heart stay with you, no matter how long you’ve been apart. It’s an amazing thing, friendship like that. Now, in order to see said favorite person, I had to go “home”. It’s been over ten years since I went back to that town. And it was the most surreal thing I’ve ever done.
So many things had changed, and just as many had stayed the same. My brain was flooded with memories, good and bad. I’m not some sad cautionary tale, high school wasn’t tragic. The girls could be catty and mean. But isn’t that typical in every town, small or not? They taught me to let it go, that not everyone had to like me. They taught me that mean people? Are mean because they have issues. And that none of it really matters anymore the second you walk across that stage.
My first love was in that town, my first boyfriend, my first date, my first everything. And thanks to him I don’t have some horrible “first time” story about fumbling hands in the back of a truck, although that came later and just for fun. (I used to skip my last class of the day when he had home games…you know, for love of the game) We had so much fun together, so many laughs and experiences. He taught me a lot about what I wanted in a partner and what I didn’t. And I’m sure I did the same for him. Of course we thought we would be together forever, that we’d finish school, get married and have kids. And of course, we didn’t make it past a few semesters of college. We don’t talk anymore, but I do think of him from time to time. And I always smile.
I’m a writer. Memories, nostalgia, images from high school…all those things are in valuable to me. Sure driving through town was like an episode of the twilight zone. Sure some of those memories are hard to re live. But it all happened and it all shaped me. And it all goes into my writing, into my books and characters. Those mean girls? Happy Place (which will get re released with my publisher soon). That high school sweetheart? My love of baseball players for St. Leasing. And that amazing teacher? She’s is every confident word I write.
Now for the hot guys section of this blog…