How do you feel about where you grew up?

I can’t believe I’m even writing this.

I grew up in a conservative rural area in Ohio and I spent most of my childhood counting down the days until I could leave. It’s not a friendly place for atheists or for anyone even the slightest bit different. I never fit in even though my family has lived in the area for generations. 

After graduating high school, I left for college in the Cleveland area. It wasn’t a huge shock living in an urban area for the first time, although people would pick on me for my little country accent. My friends called me “fresh off the farm”. Still, I thought it was really exciting. I was convinced that I was made to live in the city.

I’ve moved around a bit since then – even spending some time in Los Angeles. 

Ten years ago my husband and I moved to Toledo, a medium-sized city just forty minutes from where I grew up. We live in the middle of the city – no suburbs for us – and for the most part, it’s been a great place to live. I’m happy to be raising my daughter here.

Lately, however, I have been thinking about home – fondly for once. My childhood in the country was actually a lot of fun. My sister and I had a lot of freedom and every day felt like an adventure. 

I never regretted leaving, but now I wonder, was it really that bad? Times have changed; maybe it’s better now. 

Since leaving a new highway was built making Toledo a lot more accessible to the outlying rural area. Not to mention advances in technology making it possible to work from anywhere. I’m sure that opened up a lot of doors for people back home. 

But here’s the big question – have the attitudes of the people changed back home? Could it ever be a welcoming community?

Maybe it’s all the country music I’ve been listening to lately but it’s nice to think about home in a positive light after years of resentment. Maybe this just comes with age?

I sometimes get the itch to explore new places, but for now, Toledo is home.

Can you guys relate? What was it like where you grew up? Do you look at it differently now than when you were a kid? 


  1. brightmoon says

    I live in NYC. I moved to Long Island . Queens and Brooklyn aren’t part of Long Island . You’ll get lynched if you call someone from there a Long Islander . They’ll tell you in a second that they’re New Yorkers 🤣 Yes those two counties are physically part of Long Island but they’re counties in NYC. People who aren’t in NYC or Long Island are from Upstate.

    Long Island isn’t like NYC and I couldn’t wait until I moved back to NYC even though I had to pay a city tax that I didn’t while living on Long Island. Hated the place due to the lack of public transportation and the racism . When I lived with my grandmother for about 6 months in a small town in North Carolina , I felt I’d entered the twilight zone . Everyone speaks English and they’re all the same cloned religion. I hadn’t realized how surprisingly and upsettingly boring that was going to be . No variety at all and 6 months was all I could stand

  2. Allison says

    Short answer: thankful not to live there any more.

    I grew up in Virginia, the Land that Time Forgot, in Richmond, which was (and as far as I know still is) Ante-Bellum South. The kind of place where if you did or said or thought anything that wasn’t already done/said/thought back in Robert E. Lee’s day, they looked at you like you had three heads. I got out when I was 18 and have never wanted to go back. I occasionally go back to visit family, and while it has got a lot more consumerist stuff now — chain restaurants, faux-colonial cookie-cutter housing developments, freeways (built exclusively through formerly all-black neighborhoods, of course), etc. — as far as I can tell, it still looks only backward. The few places I remember at all fondly have been dug up and built over (cf. the song “Big Yellow Taxi.”) It doesn’t help that the relatives that still live there have gone Fox News / MAGA, so I can’t really talk to them. I once said I’d rather live in a dumpster on 125th Street [Harlem] than move back there.

    Obligatory light-bulb joke:
    Q: how many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: None. Nothing ever changes in Virginia.

  3. Oggie: Mathom says

    I loved growing up in National Parks — C&O Canal, Death Valley, Grand Canyon — but hated living in Western Maryland — small town, bible belt, everyone related to everyone else — and was glad to escape to college in New Hampshire.

  4. mathman85 says

    Like you, I also grew up in a conservative quasi-rural area in Ohio (the southeastern quadrant, in my case). I am unfortunate enough not to have managed to leave as yet.

    I hate it.

  5. Ada Christine says

    rural western Wisconsin. i have a nostalgic twinge for a very specific type of day. fall is my favorite season and i have fond memories of sunny, cool days early in October. but i would never go back. they didn’t accept me then, there’s no way they’d accept me now.

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