THOUGHTS FROM THE 712

by Steve Clem on March 31, 2011

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores. Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more.

_ Bruce Springsteen, “My Hometown”

The short version of the story?

I was planning a vacation to Mexico in my head this week when I got my annual bonus check back in January.

That plan changed when I rolled my car near Madelia, MN approximately 5 hours later.

So I’m instead writing this while vacationing in Sioux City, Iowa. My Hometown.

Let’s be honest, if you pressed me on the advantage Sioux City has over Mexico as a vacation destination, I’d say I prefer the water here to Mexico.

But really, there is something that soothes my soul when I’m home.

I drive past the Washington Elementary playground where I had my first kiss in fifth grade.

As I loop around the old neighborhood, I don’t see houses.

Instead I see the faces of friends from the past, some of whom I’m lucky enough to have reconnected with all these years later.

A trip to the country takes me past the farm of my best friend, Jeff, where I was lucky to have mostly left in one piece given our ability to get into trouble.

Driving through downtown past City Hall, The Orpheum, my dad’s old law office, I remember nights in high school spent cruising the downtown loop of Sioux City.

No question, the times I had here in my youth were great.

The time I spend here now is nothing short of that either.

Because even though a place that once relied on a world leading stockyards and a world leading computer manufacturer to drive it’s economy has nothing near that now, they are still the same people I grew up with.

They don’t stand around talking about how to fix a problem. They roll up their sleeves, get sweaty, and fix the damn thing.

If you want someone to respect you in Sioux City, you don’t have to drive a fancy car or wear fancy clothes. You just have to earn their trust.

And yes, Sioux City is small enough that there’s a little bit of small-town gossip here. But don’t knock it. It can keep a person honest.

But I think what I like most now is that the people here are still happy to live a simple life. No fuss. Come as you are. Stay as long as you want.

I’m glad that I’m not sipping a cold drink in Mexico right now. Okay, that’s a complete lie, but I truly am glad that I’m sipping a cold drink in my hometown.

It makes me feel sorry for people who don’t appreciate their hometown. They’re missing out on staying connected to something that shaped who they are as a person, like it or not.

Sioux City. She ain’t always pretty. But she’s mine.

* * * *

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

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: