Home » About Me » Where did you grow up?

Where did you grow up?

This question always stumps me for some reason. That’s random, I know, but it does. It shouldn’t be cause for a lengthy explanation, but it often is.

My childhood was essentially split in half, with the first half – until I was 10 years old – spent in a large city, and the second half – 10 to 20 – spent in a tiny, rural town. Sometimes I explain that when people ask where I grew up, and sometimes I just give the short answer of the second half of my childhood. I don’t know why I do that. Both places, both halves of my childhood define me, made me who I am.

The first half of my childhood…..big city, next to a bunch of other big cities. All my earliest memories are there. Our family traditions began there. I had my first best friend, first sleepovers and slumber parties, first bike crash, first days of school. My godmother and babysitter lived fairly close. Her family became our family. Smells, sights, sounds….songs sung from the backseat of my godmother’s car, Sunday School and VBS with all her “kids”, getting our pool put in, the fish pond and fountain in our backyard, the dog dragging my brother down the street when he got out, Friday nights at the  pizza place, my brother playing the Star Wars theme with his Junior High School band, Cosentino’s grocery store with their amazing fresh bread and the gingerbread man cookies we used to get in the bakery, the special shoes I had to wear to keep me from turning my foot in, the bee hive that set up house in the wall of my bedroom, the time we all had the flu and stayed home from school, the bunk beds my sister and I had, the pink and blue carpet in our shared bedroom, Christmas Eves and Christmas mornings, my oldest brother living with  us in the added-on room, the day we got our van, my brother’s Little League games, Campfire Girls meetings after school, playing at the park just outside of our neighborhood….

I remember when our parents told us we were moving. I was SO sad. I didn’t want to leave our house, didn’t want to leave my school. My friends started pulling away before we even packed up the house. The move was a defining break in my childhood – split it right in half. We spent that summer traveling around my mom’s home state. Then we were in a rental house for a couple of months until our new house was ready.

Our new town was teeny-tiny, 15,000 people. There was one high school. My brother didn’t take the move well. He ran away, back to the Big City, and my godmother’s house. My parents let him spend the weekend there to calm down, then we went and picked him up. I remember picking out my new bedding with matching curtains. I remember my mom putting my new canopy bed together – I was so proud of that thing. I remember my dad and brother building the fences with our new neighbors. There was a corn field just beyond the houses at the end of our street, which meant there were always spiders and mice in the garage, house, backyard. When I think about the question, “Where did you grow up?” this town, this house, is what comes to mind, for it is there that I did my growing up, even though the first half of my childhood did help shape me. The second half…that’s middle school and my second (and best) best friend.  It’s high school, learning to drive, church camp, first crushes, first dates, first kisses, first boyfriends, first drama, first bullies. It’s football games and dances on Friday nights. It’s learning who I was, who I wanted to be. It’s singing along with Chicago in my bestie’s bedroom while doing  math homework. It’s bike rides to the library. It’s ice fights with my brother and sister while Mom was at work. It’s orchestra, swimming, acrobats, gymnastics, chamber ensemble, and cheerleading. It’s 3-mile walks home on sunny afternoons. It’s 4th of July fireworks at the high school football field. It’s my first car. It’s my first heartbreak. It’s cruising the four main streets of town, looking for friends to hang out with. It’s green and gold, being a Bulldog, graduation, leaving for college.

Where am I from? I’m from a big city, and I’m from a small town. I’m from urban and rural. Both made me who I am. Both are part of me. Both hold my childhood memories.

How do you answer that question?

15 thoughts on “Where did you grow up?

  1. I know exactly what you mean.
    I moved A LOT. Like a crazy amount. But I spent almost four years in a tiny town, and it was an excellent place to be a kid. Really, idyllic. I don’t think I would have done as well as an adolescent there.
    At almost 13, I went to live with my mother in the city (where I started) and that was where I stayed until I left home, so those were my formative years.
    When asked where I grew up, I say assorted things, depending on whose asking and their frame of reference, and how long they keep asking until they can pin me down. Indianapolis, northeast side, Ivy Hills, 37 & 75th?
    Locals here will make use of the high school one graduated from 🙂

    • That’s it – it depends upon who they are, what the circumstances of the conversation are, how persistent they are in asking. That makes a difference. Short answer is always the small town

  2. I grew up in a city , completely, though the suburbs of it, completely until I was about 8. Then the weekends, at age 8, were spent in the country. It was a split childhood. Every weekend traveling to someplace else to grow up. Sometimes it was great, sometimes I despised it, but it’s what I had. 🙂

  3. Hmmm, where did I grow up?
    Well, I was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, a very middle class town in a very middle class county, them we moved to Essex a couple of years later. From there, we moved to Crowborough, East Sussex (the land of Winnie the Pooh; AA Milne wrote all the stories there, based in and around Ashdown Forest, the real “Hundred Acre Wood” and I frequently played Pooh Sticks on the actual Pooh Bridge) which is where I spent my childhood from the age of six and stayed there for the next 25 years. I lived there until 1998, when I moved to beautiful Devon.

    So, that’s where I spent time getting older, but this “growing up” of which you speak?
    Nope, I don’t think I’ve encountered that yet.

  4. I had a UK version of this! The first 11 years in a suburb of London where dad commuted everyday – not really a town just a series of ancient villages that had sprawled together during the 20th century. Then we moved to the backside of nowhere, a set of three cottages and nothing but farmland for another mile or so that then became our southern wilderness the New Forest. I usually say that’s where I grew up because the memories are strongest but truly as you point out it was both that shaped me.

  5. I love this. Two sides of a coin, both part of you.

    I grew up in a navy family, so when people ask where I’m from I always pause (you’d think I’d be used to it by now) before saying “navy brat.” If they still look at me blankly then I’ll launch into the longer explanation — dad was in the navy, moved every few years, born overseas but spent most of my childhood on the east coast, blah blah blah…
    It’s an unusual answer where I live now. Most of the people I meet grew up and actually attended one of the high schools in the area, which I frankly find a bit bizarre. 😉

    • Right? Everyone has her own story. Having moved in the middle, I’m always intrigued, and yes, a little weirded out, by people who grew up in one town and then stayed there.

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