Eventually you realize
Every now and then, this town catches me by surprise.
The first six months I lived here, I hated it and wanted to go 'home' - home, of course, being the quiet swaddle of friends and familiarity that was my collegiate life in Arkansas. But, with everyone graduated and moved away, 'home,' as I remembered it, no longer existed.
Without my friends, Conway was nothing but a collection of streets that connected a series of dormitories.
For the first six months, Huntsville consisted of a collection of streets that connected nothing to nothing, with many people (none of whom knew I existed) zooming back and forth to places that I didn't know about.
Then you begin to find things.
I found a yarn shop. A bakery. We acquired felines. Eventually, we bought a house, and began to make friends. A couple of years later, I find myself calling up friends on a Saturday and saying, "I'm trying out a new curry recipe tonight - want to have some?" and ending up feeding eight for dinner.
Then, one night, you find yourself driving down the freeway on a foggy night. You catch yourself staring at the sinuous curve of the sodium-vapor lamps on I-565 as it winds its way to the east side of town, and you find yourself realizing that somewhere along the way your heart has softened a bit toward the town that you once thought annoyed you so much.
If you didn't know any better, you might begin to suspect that you might miss this place if you ever moved away from it. Something along the lines of a sneaking suspicion that Jeremy's statement the other night was probably right: every place has its issues, be it house prices, lousy coffee, grumpy inhabitants, or faraway friends.
True, Misty has a point when she notes that most local businesses are ghost towns by 4:30, and that most big concert tours don't come any closer than Nashville or Birmingham. In exchange, we get shockingly reasonable house prices and rush hours that last about fifteen seconds.
Over the course of a couple of years, a social life creeps up on you. Eventually you realize that you're keeping the board games in the common areas of your house because people are likely to show up on any given night, and it's always nice to have something to play.
Eventually you realize that, while you weren't looking, the place you thought you were only marking time in has suddenly become…home.