by Steve Clem on December 6, 2010

“I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world.” _ George Bailey.

It is no secret that “It’s A Wonderful Life” is my favorite movie of all time.

And I’m not ashamed to admit that, even though I’ve seen the movie roughly 2 million times, I can still cry like a baby when I watch it.

I’ve seen it in black and white. In enhanced color. I’m waiting for the 3-D version to arrive in theaters.

And yes, I do realize the movie has become a cliche of the Holiday season. But I don’t care.

The underlying themes of the movie speak so much to me, in particular since in many ways my life has been very anti-George Bailey.

I didn’t stay in my own personal Bedford Falls (aka Sioux City). I went away to college as quickly as I could and learned a lot of new things. A few of them were even in the classroom.

I also lived in London, England for a semester, and made sure that my homework load didn’t interfere with my nightly dart game at the neighborhood pub.

Then I went on to grad school in Iowa City to pursue my dream of being a newspaper reporter.

I ended up living there for 8 years, and Iowa City quickly became my second Bedford Falls.

And I wanted to stay there. I had found my “home.”

But I didn’t stay. Having family close to us was important to my ex-wife and I during the years we tried to juggle diaper changes with careers.

So I spurned Bedford Falls not once, but twice.

Not George Bailey. He stayed despite his hatred for doing so. Because that’s what had to be done.

And while George couldn’t see it without the help of an Angel, his life was complete despite all the pipe dreams and destinations he never followed up on visiting.

I don’t have a Clarence to guide me back to Bedford Falls, but I have a ton of friends in both Sioux City and Iowa City who make it so easy for me when I return.

And in the long run, I know I’ll be back to one of the two. Just not sure which one yet.

But I know this much…I’ll be happier than Mr. Potter in a bath of crisp 100 dollar bills if when I do return, a room full of friends sing “Auld Lang Syne” and pass around a bucket for donations.

If that happens, the kegs on me, kids.

As the inscription in the book from Clarence to George read, “Remember George: No man is a failure who has friends.”

“I wish I had a million dollars! HOT DOG!” _ George Bailey.

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

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