February 20, 2013

Running through my hometown

The only way to truly see a city is on foot. When you aren't whizzing by in a car, you see things you never would have noticed. That's one of my favorite things about running -- seeing things that have been there all along like it's the first time.

Last weekend, Trea and I had 6 miles to run, and we were in my tiny hometown of Stamps, Arkansas. This town is not impressive, and it has about 2,000 residents on a busy day. I had no idea how to run 6 miles through such a teeny hamlet, so we saw about every square inch of the place, zig-zagging up and down every block. Just as we were leaving my parents' house, Trea's iPod battery croaked, so I spent an hour giving him a tour of where I grew up, trying to keep him entertained.

The downtown triangle. No, it isn't big enough to have a square.
Stamps isn't exactly runner friendly. The few sidewalks that exist are cracked and falling apart, and it seems a requirement to have at least one dog guarding every front porch -- none of them fenced in or tied up. It's a town of elderly drivers, big trucks and outdoorsmen. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed running there.

It's funny to try to give a "tour" of a place where you haven't lived in over a decade and where little happens. I blurted things out in short, breathless bursts as we ran, random snippets of fuzzy flashes from my childhood. "That's where my friend, Fabian, lived. He had a band." "That's where Aunt Lou lived. She kept every card and picture she ever got in her giant Bible."

The last time I toured this town on foot, I was too young to drive. Most of the things I remember aren't there anymore, but it's still good to go back and see what memories I've kept tucked away. Like the time I got in trouble for stealing a piece of gum at Hamilton's, a grocery store that closed down long ago and always smelled of fried chicken. Or how Miss Eva and Miss Betty at Petrey's would write down my purchases -- a Coke in a glass bottle and an orange sherbet push-up -- and send mom a bill at the end of the month. My grandmother's beautiful church, the softball field where we confirmed that I do not have hand/eye coordination, the band hall where I was forced to learn to play the recorder.

There are hardly any businesses left on our little downtown triangle, but Griffin's Pharmacy is still there -- where I used to play with my best friend and get Coke floats from her mom at the soda fountain. And thankfully, the Stamps Cafe is still going strong. After 6 windy, hilly miles, we were so happy to scarf down homemade burgers and fries. Their food is easily better than Red Robin, hands down.

The Stamps Cafe wastes no energy on aesthetic appeal. It's all about the food!
The difference between Stamps and where I live now is stark. One is slowly fading, and the other is booming. But I see beauty in both. Who says you can never go home?

1 comment:

  1. I just love ALL OF THESE WORDS!
    I live pretty close to my hometown but couldn't tell you the last time I really stopped and looked around the old spots.

    What a wonderful memory to share with Trea!



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