As you read this brief blogpost, you might want to set the stage by humming Bruce Springsteen’s song, My Hometown under your breath.
Even though I wasn’t born there — and didn’t grow up there — Grand Rapids, Michigan has become my hometown of sorts. Grand Rapids is the center of the Dutch Christian Reformed subculture, which is the amniotic fluid I percolated in. In that sense, it birthed me.
Last week I attended the Festival of Faith & Writing, which is held every-other-year at my alma mater, Calvin College.
On the first day, I was on the way to hear Jonathan Safran Foer and stopped in the ladies’ room in the Field House. As I waited for my turn at the sink, the woman ahead of me apologized for making me wait.
She said, I just have to run cool water over my wrists.
I said: No problem, I understand.
She glanced at my name badge and chortled.
She grew up in California; I grew up in New Jersey. Her father and my father were brothers. We have never met before. But I knew her face. She looks exactly like our Aunt Carol (who lives in Illinois).
There’s just something familiar about a hometown.