by Steve Clem on May 7, 2009

There was always a little bit of George Bailey in me as a kid. I was convinced that I was going to leave my hometown and travel the world (and to a large extent, I have)…and never look back.

When people used to ask me where I was from originally, I’d say “Sioux City. A great place to grow up. And leave.” I really am glad I had my eyes opened to how lucky I was to grow up in a place like that.

Then a funny thing happened. I grew up. Last summer I had my 20-year HS reunion, an event I was dreading in many ways. I was probably one of the few single members of my class for one thing, I figured. In addition, I didn’t exactly have a blast at the 10 year reunion. You could say my excitement level about the 20th reunion was somewhere between getting a root canal or doing your tax returns.

But I went to the reunion, and surprise of all surprises, I had an awesome time. And I reconnected with people I hadn’t talked to in years, as well as began conversations with classmates I never took the time to know back in the day. And that has continued over to the Internet through email and Facebook, as well as text messages and phone calls.

Over the last 11 months, I’ve been in Sioux City visiting family and friends more than I had in the previous 20 years since I left. I’ve talked with friends over a dog at Milwaukee Weiner House, or enjoyed a fresh out of the oven Jerry’s pizza with my sons, and hearing them get excited when we go to visit my parents about the prospect of ordering “That one guy’s pizza.”

Every time I’ve been back, I have been lucky enough to hang out with people from my past, and found that it is easy to pick up where things left off, and reminisce about childhood and high school memories.

And now each time I pack up and head down to Siouxland, I think to myself, I’m going home. To Sioux City. A great place where I grew up. Period. Someone order me a Charlie Boy!

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Steve Clem originally published this piece on the blog A Prisoner in the Tundra.

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