February 5, 2013

Thank God For Hometowns

"Hey, you don't me, but you don't like me
Say you care less how I feel
'cause how many of you who sit and judge me
Ever walk the streets of Bakersfield?"
~Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam~

Friday afternoon, my mom and I were running errands around town, and one of our stops required driving past the good ole Bakersfield sign stretched across the street. I've never really been able to get a good picture of it, so I tried and thought it came out great. It also had me thinking about the city itself. I was born and raised here, like most have been, and I started thinking about what it means to me. For many years, I didn't care for the fact that I was from Bakersfield...I thought it was boring, dull, and a waste of time. I just wanted to be in LA, where all of the action and excitement in California seemed to be, if you're going to live in an exciting state like this one.
As I've gotten older, have wised up a bit and have seen more of the world than just where I'm from, I realize that there really is no place like home. My family and I traveled a bit more last year and weren't home quite as often. I think that really gave me a chance to see just how much I miss this place and how much it is a part of me, whether I've wanted it to be or not. It made me see that no matter where I've been or may travel to in the future, it'll never be "home", like Bakersfield is.

When I visited Nashville this past June and saw what a big part Bakersfield's sound played in Country music, I couldn't have been more proud to say that I was from here. I almost wanted to walk up to strangers and tell them I was from Bakersfield, and how the exhibit is a great depiction of what the city is like. I didn't...But, I was tempted to. Our community has reached so many other places, and opened my eyes to the fact that just because you leave, doesn't mean you'll never come back. And even if you don't, your hometown is always a part of you; it made you who you are and that reflects the road that leads you in the future. The second we leave those city lines, there's a world waiting for us. It can bring us a lot of incredible memories, new friendships, and open a door of new opportunities. But, there are some things that world will never be able to give us- a hug from an old friend, a wise word from dad that everything's going to be okay, or a hug and homecooked meal from mama.
I was raised on country music! Pretty much everyone in my family has listened to it, whether it was the true country that my grandpa listened to on WSM or George Strait, like my mom listened to when I was born. It has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I would put on concerts to Leann Rimes' music for hours and make my family listen to me. That's when I knew I wanted to be a singer. 

The more I leave now, the more I also look forward to coming back. I always think that everything will be different, but it never is, and to tell you the truth, I love that. I love that it's a place I can always count on to be here, to stay true to its roots, and to always remember where it came from. It has made me who I am. I am a country girl at heart; we have a lot of agriculture out this way, and we also have a lot of hard working people who love going to church, football games on Friday nights, fried chicken, and their country music blasting in a pickup truck. In fact, Country music pretty much dominated at our high school functions and on quite a few occasions, I'll hear students cranking up their radios to KUZZ in the parking lot of my community college. Country is a way of life, and if that's the case, then I think you could put us up against Nashville or any other southern state for that matter. It's in our blood and it's who we are. In fact, I'm related somewhere down the line to Uncle Dave Macon whose name is mentioned quite a bit in the Country Music Hall of Fame and The Ryman. Right now it's all I have as my "claim to fame", so I'm pretty proud of that fact. And my grandma, who was always such a huge country music and Buck Owens fan (she was his keyboard player's next door neighbor for the longest time), ended up being buried right in front of Buck's memorial, which actually looks like a mini house. We thought that was pretty cool...Well, you know, as cool as it can be for something like that.

I don't know that I want to live here the rest of my life. I'd like to branch out and see where the road takes me, and live life like it was meant to be another country song on the radio, but God has His plans, and I don't know that I'll end up out there. Maybe I'll live here the rest of my life, and that'd be okay too if it's what God wants. Either way, I know that this place and the people in it, made me who I am today, and I'll take a little bit of it with me wherever I end up. And that'll make for a pretty cool story someday. I'll never forget where I came from, and I know no matter what, it'll always be here, welcoming me back with open arms, and that's all that I can ask for. 

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