Picture yourself on a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

My hometown sits along the mighty Columbia River. Alright, so it may not be as mighty as the Mississippi or the Ohio or the Hudson…but dang is it mighty. I love the river. Although I’m afraid of most natural bodies of water (I watched “Jaws” one too many times in my formulative years…) I’ve always viewed the Columbia as a friend. We also have the Yakima and Snake Rivers nearby, but the Columbia is the king. There is no more refreshing memory of outdoor fun I’ve had than the summer days when it hit over 100 degrees and we’d hop on jetskiis and scoot about at 50+ mph or take out the ski boat and go wakeboarding, skiing, or tubing. I never mastered the art of wakeboarding or skiing…but oh could I man those safety flags. I knew the signals inside and out. And put me on a jetski and I can fly. Well, I can make the jetski fly. Once during highschool, three of us had crammed onto the seat of a jetski and hit a drop in the waves enough to get complete air. The driver (not me) lost control and all three of us tumbled off…but not before the driver wrenched the handles enough to turn the ski around so it’d clock us in the head on our way into the water. That was a good day.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
and she’s gone

Along the rivers, my hometown has beautiful parks. Our parks department is amazing *applauds*. There’s Leslie Groves Park with the old horseshoe pits (they’re gone now, I believe). I saw several of my friends baptized there. There’s Columbia Park that fills up with thousands of drunken sports fans every summer to watch the hydroplanes and boasts our town’s only ropes/challenge course. It’s nothing to be proud of. It also used to have one of the state’s largest playgrounds. Someone set fire to it in December and it burned to the ground. Howard Amon Park is home to the art show my father annually participates in. The times I’ve missed Art in the Park in the last 21 years are so few I can count them on one hand. There’s great fishing from anywhere along the river, and the highlight of many a youth group attendees’ summer has been to grab an innertube and float lazily along the river while getting fried crispy.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

I was never so excited to leave as I was for college. The school I attend is nearly continuously swathed in water; mist, rain, deluge, even the occasional fog will permeate the entire campus/city/valley. Granted, my hair wouldn’t be straight for the first two years because of the weather but I was willing to deal with that. To me, the hometown stood for everything boring and blasé. The atmosphere was as dry as the dirt everywhere, as tedious as the wind always blowing. And I craved new and exciting.

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
that grow so incredibly high

I don’t see much beauty in my hometown’s natural landscape. Although it’s a part of the Evergreen State, there are very few evergreens. It’s mostly rolling hills of sagebrush and dirt with the occasional ravine filled with russian olive trees and cheat grass. My father is a local celebrity for the photos he takes around the area. The true beauty in my hometown lies in our sunsets. A plash of reds and blues, oranges and pinks, the violent violet and soothing inky navy all play together on the playground of the burning sun sinking into the ground. In the summer, the sun will scorch the ground until it glints. You’ll walk outside into the light and its intensity will crash into you with the force of a piledriver and steal the breath so fast you feel it’s been knocked out like a pair of weights dropped on your shoulders. In the winter, there will be a few pitiful flakes drifting to the ground – just enough to lift your hopes. There will be a sugar coat dusting on the tops of the higher hills. And the wind. The constant shrieking-freezing-scalding-torrential onslaught of the wind of my hometown. It makes the cold turn frigid and the heat turn stifling.

Newspaper taxis appear on the shores
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
and you’re gone

The people of my hometown are good people for the most part. It’s not a small town, but it ain’t no New York by far. The rough estimate hits it about 150,000 people. This year is its Centennial anniversary. There are still the family owned bakeries and toy stores. Old men still gather at six o’clock in the morning at the local Spudnut shop to play chess and eat their fill of the potato donuts. The streets still host government built houses which are lined up like cookies dropped from the same mold to bake in the hot sun. Church bake sales are advertised in the locals, neighborhood children play together in the streets while their parents chat over fences, and everyone is friends with the local newscasters. Our PTA and school board meetings are packed with concerned parents, and the entire community will gather around a family who has lost their child to a drunk driving accident. The festivals of my hometown still involve good times, loud laughter, fun music, and a full cup of local beer or wine. We broadcast our highschool sports on television and radio and have sets of regulars who meet at any of the many golf courses on Saturday mornings. It’s quiet. And practically any highschool or college student you ask will say there is nothing to do.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

I’m not exactly sure what it is about the hometown – we have a love/hate relationship. I very rarely travel to my parents’ house from my apartment – my home. In fact, the week of spring break was my first trip home since Christmas. That doesn’t really bother me. I want to be someone who travels the world. I feel a sort of guilt for not having a strong emotional attachment to my hometown.

Picture yourself in a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Since going to college, the hometown has never been the same. Sometimes it’s a sanctuary, sometimes it’s a prison – depending on my attitude. I just don’t seem to fit anymore. Not that I’m really complaining because obviously it’s natural that I don’t fit after being away for nearly four years and changing while everyone else who recongregates in the summer is changing as well. I look at things differently, my spectrum has been widened. With the double standard popping up in my life, I still expect others to be exactly as I left them while they accept me for who I’ve become to be. When I return to the hometown, it’s like trying to squeeze back into clothes I wore in kindergarten. They once were mine and fit me perfectly. I once ran and played and laughed in them. And now, they’re a better fit for someone other than me. It’s a chapter in a book with its final page turned, and to try to write in it now I’ve started a new one would only jumble things up too much to be interpreted.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

Now, there are less than four weeks until I place the final period on another chapter. This has been a place where just when I think it could never get better – it does. And just when I think it could never get worse – things drop out from under me. Experiences in the hometown taught me things need to get done. Experiences here taught me things will get left unfinished. I’m sure come next year I’ll return to visit and I’ll find I don’t fit. People have changed, there will be new buildings, a new name. Things will run differently. I’ll remember all the wonderful and wretched times and wish I could fling water balloons with the launcher towards the girls dorms one more time, or play Halo or Zelda or Mariokart or any video game with a buttload of people who are just as intent as I am on doing nothing. But it’s impossible. I won’t fit. Just as I don’t fit in the hometown anymore.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

You might think I’d find this discouraging – always moving around from chapter to chapter, having to buy new sets of clothes because now the old ones don’t fit. And sometimes it is. But in perspective, I’m never going to fit anywhere until the end. I could glorify the mica infused sand of the hometown or place all the sparkling dew drops of college town on a pedestal, but nothing will compare to the sharp gemstone beauty that will be heaven. All the places I’ll fit there will more than make up for the misfit nature of this earth. I’ll fit in the palm of God’s hand. I’ll fit in worship at His feet. I’ll fit on the streets of gold and by the fountain of life. All my perspective and changes and attributes will do nothing but contribute to the amazing equation that I fit.

lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney