Loose Ends: A place where everyone knows your name

During a recent phone call, the woman was surprised to hear her preschool granddaughter ask, “How is my Meeker?”    
The little girl had only visited a couple of times, yet those visits had made her feel right at home.  Everyone she passed on the street seemed to call her by name and express interest in her.  She wanted to reestablish the summertime connection and let her grandmother know that she was looking forward to coming back in a few months.
“Fine,” answered the grandmother, but then she thought about what that simple question signified.  She soon rambled on with lots of detailed information about all of the familiar places, citing such changes as the muddy conditions of the playground across the street, the biting cold wind, and the most recent snowstorm.  The silence at the other end of the phone told her that the question hadn’t needed more than a perfunctory response.  The woman realized it was a case of too much information.
“Are you still there, Sweet Pea?” she asked.
“Yes, Nanny, now can I talk to the dog?”
After the family pet was summoned to the phone and entertained the little one and her brother with his heavy breathing and some howling, the little girl got back on the phone chattering about news of her friends and family.
“Would you send me a picture of my playground?” she asked at the end of the conversation and the grandmother caught the key word in the entire conversation.  The possessive pronoun was the clue that the little girl had indeed claimed ownership.  She had only wanted her grandmother to help her feel connected again.
“How did all of those people know my name?” she had asked after her first week long visit.  She never tired of hearing how both of her parents had grown up in the community.  Her family’s continued involvement with the community kept faces and names fresh.  She planned to return for a visit during the coming summer.
One’s childhood sense of ownership of a place doesn’t fade.  The children of the town, grown and gone, often express the same feelings.  If those memories include a rocky relationship with the community during adolescence, that link may be weakened but not broken.  In most communications with family and friends most native sons and daughters try and reacquaint themselves with the place they knew so well at one time.
Adults may not blurt out, “How is MY hometown doing without me?” But that is what they want to know.
The only other personalized inquiries come from the older segment of the hometown population.
It is only human nature to think that the community could not recover from one’s absence and lack of involvement.

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