This I Believe

Kayla - Elgin, Iowa
Entered on December 3, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: place

Wave to the People You Meet on the Road

There are 600 people in my hometown. I can proudly say that I either know each of them personally or have heard of them in one way or another. Once in awhile, a stranger will come to town. None of this matters, though, when driving on any of the streets of our small, rural community. It’s the norm in our little corner of northeast Iowa to recognize everyone you pass on the street. Whether it’s a full out wave in the air or a simple nod of the head, someone in an SUV or a tractor, I believe in waving to the people I meet on the road, and it’s something I’ll continue to do wherever I end up.

I understood that things would be a little different when I came to college; imagine waving to everyone at the Pentacrest! Each community has a different way of living, and this wasn’t going to be an exception. Everyone brought different backgrounds and a sense of the society that they came from. I looked forward to experiencing this new lifestyle, but I wasn’t going to let it take away from what I’ve gained in the 19 years I spent establishing my roots.

I love coming home to the comfort of my town. I have an awareness of the familiar faces that greet me everyday at the local grocery store, that walk on the sidewalk past my house, and that recognize me whether they’ve ever talked to me or not. People I vaguely recognize ask me how my classes are, and I admire these people for the care and support they have for their community. I relentlessly look forward to the people, childhood memories, and the close-knit family called Elgin, that has constructed my identity.

This summer I traveled to Europe, an experience of a lifetime, but was constantly reminded of home as I saw a part of my community in each of the countries I toured. While sitting on a bench in a Switzerland village, a petite elderly lady came right up to talk to us and ask us where we were from. The interest she showed in us demonstrated the sentiment of our tiny community as if she had lived with us her entire life. I have now come to realize that wherever I am in the world, I will always be able to bring forth the impression that my town has made on me.

After many years of feeling like my modest town didn’t have anything to offer, I’ve come to find that the values, encouragement, and consciousness of my self it has instilled in me, is more than I, personally, could have received elsewhere. Even if I continue to travel the world and expand my perception of my surroundings, I will carry on our ritual of waving to passerby that I have come accustomed to, because I believe in sticking to my roots.