thirteen things we all know to be true when visiting our small hometowns

Like a lot of people, I grew up in a very small farming community in the Midwest before I moved to LA. I moved to the city the day after I turned eighteen, and, although I love love love going home for visits, I’ve noticed some things, both good and bad, that happen every time I do. Here’s my list of things we all know to be true when we go back to our small town homes for a visit after living in a city, particularly LA.

  1. You can’t find healthy food anywhere.

    • You never realized how little organic produce is available in your hometown. And you feel super high-maintenance when you ask for it. Also, vegan options just don’t exist here. And are you really looking for a kale smoothie? Even just searching for naked juice here qualifies you for hippie health-freak name-calling. Saddle up for some greasy fried food, a serious lack of veggies, and a five-pound stomach pooch you’ll have to work off once you get back to the city, because that’s pretty much all that’s available here.

  2. Realizing you do kind of sound like a hippie compared to your old self.

    • Your family has probably been teasing you about turning into a left-wing hippie since the day you moved to LA. But then one day, you stop mid-sentence and realize...the inevitable has happened. Somewhere between making your first LA native friend and developing a borderline addiction to dodger dogs, you became a 'hippie.' You constantly talk about how your self-love group changed your life, drum circles are not out of the norm anymore, and emitting positive energy and maintaining balanced chakras are priorities in your life. But that’s one of the great things about moving to a city, particularly a west coast city like LA...you really branch out to new things and find what works for you. Things you were never even exposed to in your hometown can become staples in your life. Hooray for broadening those horizons!

  3. BRUNCH IS CONSIDERED A NON-ESSENTIAL…..

    • Seriously, a whole town full of people and you’re the only one who jumps out of bed at 10am on Sunday for strawberry-banana topped waffles and advice from friends about that guy you’re kind of dating... WTF?! You try and fail for twenty minutes to get anyone to drive to the next town over for iHop with you, but eventually end up settling for a bowl of cereal while venting to your family dog. It’s the next best thing, right?

  4. There isn’t a single yoga class within a 60-mile radius.

    • I mean, on top of the unhealthy food you’re eating, now you can’t get in your daily sun salutations in a calm, relaxed setting with an instructor half-voicing you softly into your morning. How are you supposed to start the day feeling refreshed if there’s no light yoga class at the gym with your best girl friends followed by mimosas? Speaking of alcohol…

  5. The nightlife is shit.

    • Forget about wearing that cute dress and those bomb knee-high boots you just bought. You’d be way overdressed and stick out like a sore thumb. The only version of nightlife you’ll find here is sitting in a truck bed and throwing back a budweiser in your jeans and t-shirt. Which, isn’t so bad, really...actually it’s kind of fun. Okay, I think I’ve been out of LA for too long now…

  6. Fashion is not a thing while you’re here.

    • Everything you’ve learned about dressing for your body type and flawlessly pairing accessories goes out the window when you’re home. The only thing you need to pack to come here are your crewneck t-shirts, jeans, and some athletic shorts. Not only is there just no expectation for fashion, you’d also be pretty out of place helping out on the farm in your four-inch heels and bangles. People already give you enough grief for living in a city anyway...just do yourself a favor to blend in again and leave most of your closet in LA.

  7. The sunsets are so freaking amazing.

    • You never realized how lucky you were to witness these babies every night while you were growing up. But living in LA, you don’t really get to see a good sunset that often, due to...you know...the ridiculously dense layer of smog that hovers over the entire city that we breathe in 24/7. At home, every night the sky looks like a watercolor painting and it’s just too beautiful to miss.

  8. You stay in a house. With a yard!

    • Apartment life in the city definitely has its perks, but there’s nothing like having a huge outdoor space to hang out in that isn’t a public space or park. Another luxury you didn’t quite realize was a luxury, until you moved to the city and felt completely homesick for even a little bit of private outdoor space where neighbors couldn’t peer in anytime. While you’re home, you really soak it in. You play soccer, tan naked, literally just run around in circles because you freaking can because it’s a private freaking yard and there’s no one else you have to be considerate of here! Okay, I’m a little too excited about this private yard thing. Moving on….

  9. The traffic. Or, lack thereof.

    • You can go back to calculating your travel time using the 1 mile = 1 minute method. You don’t have to worry about an hour-long delay on the 405 because here, the biggest traffic jam you’ll run into is a couple cars behind a tractor. And hey, you probably know and love the farmer driving it, so you just wait the two minutes it takes until you can either pass or they turn off onto another country road.

  10. You WILL run into people you know. A lot. Everywhere. Every day.

    • Literally anytime you leave your house you’ll see people you went to high school with, or their parents, or your parents’ friends, or your elementary school t-ball coach, or the nurse who helped with your delivery when you were born...yes, it’s that tight-knit. Small town life is no joke. Everyone knows everyone. Which brings me to the next point…

  11. The gossip and judgement will be incessant.

    • You kind of forget that people care so much about what other people are doing with their lives. Living in such a big city, it’s super easy to be just another face in the crowd if you want to be. People just don’t pry into your personal life, there’s too much else going on for it to matter. Plus, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, people really just couldn’t care less about how you spend your time. In a small town, however, that’s totally not the case. Because everyone knows everyone, everyone also wants to know everyone’s business and give their opinion on it. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “Did you see what she was wearing…?” on a daily basis. As a huge #FreeTheNipple advocate, it’s more than just a major buzzkill to hear people being shamed for embracing their bodies.  Hearing so much judgement about every little decision a person makes can really bring you down after you get used to living in such a tolerant city.

  12. You’ve let go of caring what people think of you, but still feel pressure to behave here.

    • Again, this goes back to the whole everyone knowing everyone thing. Because, you see, if you go out to the one bar in town and have a few too many, and make out with some guy (who would probably turn out to be like, your former teacher’s cousin or some shit like that) then it would get around town faster than you can say, “That was a mistake.” Before you even beat the hangover, it will have already gotten back around to your parents. And who really wants their parents to know anything at all, ever, in any context, about their drunken sexcapades? Not me. I don’t know about you, but I have a strict no-dating/sexting/anything-romantic-at-all-rule when I’m in my hometown now, for that very reason. Anything you want kept private should be kept out of your hometown. A lesson many of us had to learn the hard way.

  13. You briefly feel like moving back...then almost immediately change your mind.

    • Being at your mom’s house with your whole family can really bring out the nostalgic side in you. And for a moment, you think to yourself, “I’m really happy here.” But then, you realize that there’s no uber here to take you and your girls for a night out downtown. Also there is no downtown and what used to be your wild girl squad is now a group of young moms with babies and husbands and mortgages and stuff. Also, you like privacy. Also, you love the city. Also, you love building your own life at your own pace. But it is really nice to know, you can always come home (to visit..) and have an entire community of people you know and love because you grew up in a small town.

 

Taylor Byers