I think finally realized (or decided) that Raleigh is now my hometown. Don't laugh. Having moved around a lot growing up (Texas - Amarillo, Illinois - Champaign, Tennessee - Nashville suburb and Knoxville, North Carolina - Greenville, Salisbury, Concord), I rarely identified anywhere as "my hometown." I remember thinking how lucky those other kids were that got to live in the same place all of their lives.
I moved to Raleigh in 1996 when I came to college. I haven't lived outside of Raleigh since then. But, if anyone asked, I usually said my hometown was Concord. Call me crazy, but I felt an allegiance to the place where I spent all four years of high school. Seriously, before that, I rarely attended the same school two years in a row.
Now, nearly 14 years later (geez, I'm getting old), I find myself quite concerned with what happens in our neck of the woods. Maybe it's because I have a six-year-old daughter. Maybe it's because I haven't been "home" more than 3 or 4 times in 14 years. Maybe it's because my parents live here now. Maybe it's because I finally found a church that makes me feel at home. Maybe it's because the dog didn't want to walk in the rain this morning. Who knows?!?!?
From the first time I drove into Raleigh while in high school, I was baffled by directional indicators of Inner and Outer on the I-440 Beltline. I was utterly confused about how to navigate it. Where did it start? Where did it end? Living here and seeing it for what it was worth, I discovered that it made complete sense. :-P It was a nightmare trying to explain it to visitors. Not to mention the number of complete strangers that I've helped over the years because they wound up at Crossroads in Cary - completely lost. But, over time, I came to love the Beltine with all of it's quirks. Driving it nearly everyday will do that to you.
My hometown realization hit while I was reading The N&Os Crosstown Traffic blog about the Beltine. It has now been renamed from Inner/Outer to East/West. If you had asked me 14 years ago, I would have thought that made total and complete sense. Now, I'll feel like a high school kid from out of town all over again.