Editor’s note: this is the second post in a series titled “Back Home,” in which Speakeasy writers analyze fondness or distaste for their hometowns while there for winter break.
What is the definition of a hometown? Is it your place of birth? In that case, my hometown would be Perth, Australia, but I don’t play by those rules. For me, a hometown is simply that: a town that you call home. My home of sixteen years is a suburb just north of Columbus — Dublin, Ohio.
On the outside, Dublin looks just like numerous other American suburbs that are white and wealthy.
And to a great degree, it is. But when I moved to Dublin in 1997, the streets were sparse on houses and round-a-bouts were few and far between. It was a cute community perfect for new, developing families to raise their children in a place sheltered from the harsh realities of life. So sheltered, in fact, that residents created the loving nickname “The Dublin Bubble,” as problems affecting the rest of the world tended to have no influence on us Dublin-ites.
Flash forward sixteen years and Dublin’s twelve elementary schools, four middle schools and four high schools are filled to capacity. Suburban streets no longer have empty lots, and plazas are void of space for more storefronts. It is no surprise that families flocked to this golf-centered suburb — it has everything you could ever want and nothing you don’t.
With our easy access to luxury came a blind eye to the harsh realities of the world. Sure, us kids watched the news and donated soup cans to those less fortunate; we were not unaware of the tragedies happening around the world, we simply had a subconscious belief we were immune to them. That was, of course, before we received our own lethal injection.
On August 4, 2013, my graduating class lost one of our own in a car accident. Our precious, beloved bubble had officially popped. At that moment, when 322 eighteen year olds were supposed to be looking forward to venturing out of the bubble and meeting new people. All we wanted was to be together — not having to deal with the deepest of all pain: death.
This event changed my view of Dublin forever. The insouciant kids I sat next to for twelve years were now seen with raw emotions, handling something nobody could write a check for and make disappear. I no longer see Dublin solely as a place where lawyers live and country clubs thrive, but rather a place filled with compassionate people who come together in the face of adversity.
This new feeling of togetherness made for a surprising visit the first time I came home from college. I expected the first visit back to be like walking down memory lane, reminiscing on the past with each street I turned down. I expected to feel as if I were peering into a different life, one that I had left behind for good and had no interest in going back to. Instead, my car basically drove itself through the suburb, careening along the roads as if I still drove them everyday.
Dublin does not contain a life I once lived, but rather, a life I have chosen to live by: count your blessings, live life to the fullest and never forget where you come from. Despite the pleasures of my childhood and lessons I learned, I’m unsure how my opinion of Dublin will change throughout the years, or even if it will remain in my life. But as visions of big cities dance in my head, I know no concrete jungle will ever compare, as this is the town that built me.