Hometowns that Stick with Us by Traci Kenworth

Hometowns that Stick with Us

Traci Kenworth

As much as I loved my hometown, I hated it. It was too confining, too critical of who I was, what I wanted to do with my life. I suppose we all feel that way. Unless, perhaps, we grow up in a city somewhere. It’s taken me a long time to make peace with myself, with where I’m from. I do know this: hometowns stick with us. They are there to plant that seed in us and watch us grow. Sometimes, there, sometimes elsewhere.

Life puts us through a lot of patches, a lot of wrong turns. If we’re lucky though, we can go back and discover what we couldn’t see before: the things that made us better. We might’ve been stifled there in the growing years but as an adult it can be a good experience for all. It helps us to let loose that knot inside ourselves left over from adolescence. We can become whole.

I remember fearlessly pedaling my bike along these streets, determined to imagine myself on a horse someday. I went a lot of places on that bike. Until a neighbor stole it from me and hid it in the apartment garage. I didn’t find it until I was sixteen or seventeen. By then, I figured it was too late to put it to use. My walking days had begun. I still dreamed of those horses though they were closer in those days thanks to visits to my Uncle Rallo’s down south who actually had horses. I would go on to learn to ride in training centers where the thrills I imagined of owning a horse superseded my dreams.

Of course, I couldn’t afford to own a horse of my own. No, I hadn’t reached that step yet. Nor did I ever. Oh, I still dream the dream but now, the reality of my health holds me back. Isn’t it funny though that we can look at pockets of the town we grew up in and remember those memories as if they just happened yesterday? They’re so real sometimes it’s hard not to imagine we’re on a parallel timeline. What did you want to do, be, when you were growing up?

Hometowns saw our tears and our joys. Those spring dances when we were young replay in our memories. The football games. Halloween and apple cider and donuts. It was a magical time, but it was full of misery too. Others didn’t understand us. Ridiculed us even. For our looks, our clothes, they way we walked or talked. The teen movies in the eighties always made it seem so easy to cross to the popular side. I did manage a tad of that in my later years in high school.

But the truth of the matter was, the kids called me Carrie. Yes, after that famous fictional character. They were afraid I’d set the gym on fire at prom through some imagined telekinesis. It crushed my soul. I had managed through a friend to get a date for that event, but I backed out when I heard that other guys in the class were joking with him about such. Afterward, another guy who’d liked me previously told me, “You really are Carrie, aren’t you?” I was so mad that I told him to go to the prom and find out if I lit the place on fire.

Of course, I didn’t go. The hurt was too much. I wish I’d found a way to connect with my classmates better, but I didn’t try and neither did they. It was easier to do my own thing. I had friends in school, don’t get me wrong but after hours, I hung with myself. It was a bit depressing, but it was also fun. I learned how to develop my writing skills during that time. I practiced with short stories, scripts for TV shows, and partial novels. It was training ground for today.

I guess what I’m saying is, investigate behind that shy face in class. That new neighbor on the block. You might find someone interesting and they, you. Don’t always just judge everyone “strange,” without getting to know them. They could be a new best friend. Or something more. If I hadn’t been so shy, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into so much trouble over the years or maybe made the decisions I did. But that’s backstory. We all have it. It comes from that hometown and other places around us.


My time with covid is coming to an end, or at least, the isolation part. I still am having aches and pains but I’m wondering if part of it, isn’t my arthritis getting worse or something else going on. A note to my doctors to consider. In other news, this is the launch of this site as the newly named “A Dash of Words with Loleta Abi.” I had to let go of my Dash of Seasons site due to financial difficulties but I was able to upgrade this one to personal status. I found my site with Dash of Seasons too technical for me to handle at times as well. WordPress is much, much better. Have a great start to your week!

Here are some posts around the web you might like to check out:

  1. Erin Bowman https://erinbowman.substack.com/p/does-pursuing-success-make-authors I don’t know a lot of happy trad authors these days. Most are frustrated with the state of the industry and many are also unhappy with the state of their careers. This isn’t breaking news. I’ve written before about how how everyone in publishing is overworked and underpaid. The topic has also been covered in the Times and PW. But I don’t think the issues covered in these pieces are the core reason why so many authors are feeling…less than pleased. From the Desk of Erin Bowman is a reader-supported publication. Please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Upgrade to paid So what is the reason? It’s pretty simple, in hindsight, and but it didn’t click for me until I stumbled upon an old Atlantic article (‘Success Addicts’ Choose Being Special Over Being Happy), which a friend had posted about on insta. So much of this article resonated with me. I saw myself in the piece. In fact, I saw almost every author I know in it. Author unhappiness, I’m now thinking, comes from the illusion that we can influence and shape our careers within the traditional publishing structure. But let me back up for a moment… I can identify with this push for success. Neglecting other areas of our lives for that grab on the bars, so to speak. I do want success, don’t get me wrong. Just not at the cost of my health and loved ones. So going forward, they’ll be boundaries for me and my writing.
  2. Marcia Meara Writes https://marciamearawrites.com/2022/10/15/teripolens-badmoonrising-featuring-meaghancurley-happyhalloween/ Today’s author says a lot with just a few words, and I guarantee laughter over her answers. You may be surprised about the King book that freaked her out – it’s not what you’d expect. Welcome Meaghan Curley! Would you rather visit a haunted house or a haunted graveyard? Graveyard. I want to learn how to Monster Mash (I hear it’s a graveyard smash!) Have you ever said Bloody Mary three times in the mirror? Yeah once, but then I sobered up and found out I wasn’t placing an order with the bartender. Would you rather visit a real haunted house or watch a horror movie marathon? Haunted house. If I die in a haunted house, at least my ghost will be a homeowner. What’s your kryptonite as a writer? When people ask me “when’s your next book coming out”. Just put a snake in my soup while you’re at it. Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most? On Writing. Finding out he reads 100+ books a year on top of pooping out a tome every 3 to 5 business days gave me existential nightmares for weeks. I agree there. Stephen King really deserves his success. After all, he puts in the time. More than I’m able to do. Still, I’d be happy with just a pinch of his success.
  3. AC Flory https://acflory.wordpress.com/2022/10/15/why-because-its-whittier/ I stumbled onto this video about Whittier, Alaska, by accident, but I kept watching because it reminded me of how I imagined life would be in the Undercity, except above ground. So what’s so special about Whittier? It’s the fact that all 200-odd residents of the town live in one building, a building that contains a store, police station, church and pretty much everything you’d expect to find in a small town. Oh, and in winter, the kids go to school via a tunnel that connects the two buildings! But wait, there’s more! You can only reach the building by boat, or via a long, rather scary tunnel. The tunnel is only open at certain times of the day, and at 6:00pm it’s closed to cars so the trains can come through! If I’ve roused your curiosity, please watch the video:
  4. Teri Polen https://teripolen.com/2022/10/16/badmoonrising-peek-and-boo-are-looking-for-you-by-david-radman-childrensbooks-ghosts/comment-page-1/#comment-63390 Another children’s book for the young readers in your life – and what an adorable cover! This author is no stranger to paranormal encounters (I’d love to have visited the Stanley Hotel with him and his daughter) and has experienced several. Welcome David Radman! Do you believe in any ‘mythical’ monsters like chupacabras or shadow people? I do.  In 2010 my wife and I moved into a home in Littleton, Colorado with our 5 children.  During the first year we encountered numerous incidents that included all 7 of us.  We witnessed shadow people in multiple rooms, moving closet doors, snoring entities on our staircase, full volume DVD players turning on in the middle of the night, our pet cat and dog hissing and barking at specific locations on our balcony, coats that we saw move on a coat rack by themselves, and much, much, more.
  5. Smorgasbord Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/10/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-spiritual-awareness-fey-angel-messages-part-two-earth-angels-and-lightworkers-by-d-g-kaye/ Welcome back to my angel series in my Spiritual Awareness series here at Sally’s Smorgasbord. Today I’m going to distinguish the difference between heavenly and earth angels. We are all spiritual beings of light, but not everyone is deemed a Lightworker or an Earth Angel. Earth angels are born into the physical world to become beacons for humanity and the earth to help spread light, love, and peace. Earth angels are known as evolved spiritual beings and highly evolved souls who’ve spent time in higher spiritual dimensions of love and light. They vibrate with light and were summoned to earth to serve as lightworkers on earth. This does not mean that they are or were spiritual angels from another realm, only that they are highly evolved souls from past life experiences, born on earth to learn and share new life lessons to help others. Angel studies tell us lightworkers originate from the 7th and 9th dimensions of angelics, incarnated into physical form with an appointed mission to awaken others with life lessons and by events to help share divine truth. Being an earth angel means to be called through the soul to help others by spreading messages of compassion and kindness to help make a difference on earth. You can also note that just because someone is an earth angel, doesn’t necessarily mean they are without faults of their own or that they grow actual angel wings, they are human. Earth angels still experience the same ups and downs in life as every other human.
  7. Mo Reading https://middlegrademojo.com/2022/10/18/mo-reading-drawing-outside-the-lines-by-susan-austin/ Happy Book Birthday to Drawing Outside the Lines!  In 1883, after a journey from Oakland, California to Brooklyn, New York on the Transcontinental Railroad, eleven-year-old Julia Morgan (known as Dudu to her family) got to walk on the newly completed Brooklyn Bridge. She was awestruck by that engineering marvel which was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. Her mother tolerated Julia’s obsession with structures and construction techniques when she was a child, but as Julia grew into a young woman, her mother admonished her to concentrate on her needlework and dance lessons. How did Julia think math and drawing was going to help her find a husband? Julia didn’t care about finding a husband. She wanted to go to college and study architecture, but in the 1890s, there were no women architects. Throughout high school and college, Julia managed to convince her parents to let her take math and engineering courses, even when she was often the only girl in class. This fictionalized account of Julia Morgan, the first woman to be granted an architect’s license in California, follows her life from that awe-inspiring visit to the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 until her college graduation in 1894. She faced constant adversity to reach her goal, sometimes from her well-meaning family who wanted a traditional life for her, and sometimes from men who were threatened by her intelligence. Author Susan Austin did a fabulous job of world-building. Details such as what clothes were worn, what food was eaten, and what games were played gave a sense of what life was really like in Oakland, California in the 1880s and 1890s. One of the funniest examples of tradition was when the college underclassmen knocked the top hats off of the juniors’ and seniors’ heads. Having a battered “plug” as the hats were called, was a source of pride. The fascinating “Epilogue” explains which parts of the story are fact and which are fiction and where Austin found her sources of information. Drawing Outside the Lines is a wonderful tribute to one of America’s woman trailblazers, the talented and hard-working architect, Julia Morgan.
  8. Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2022/10/five-micro-edits-to-hook-readers-on-your-first-page/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=the-last-newsletter-total-posts-from-our-blog_1 Ah, first pages. We angst over them. We change them incessantly. We hope they’ll nab readers and agents and editors. No pressure, right? While there are many big considerations for what your first page must do, today we’ll be covering five micro-edits you can apply that work like stealthy secret weapons. Those people you hope will fall in love with your first page won’t even know you’ve clenched them until it’s too late to close the book. Make Your Protagonist Part of the Very First Line Research shows that readers are looking for who represents them as soon as the very first line of our stories. The faster we signal who that character is, the more likely they are to bond with them and become invested in the story. Even if your story starts with setting or a line of dialogue or action that belongs to a character who isn’t your protagonist, consider a way to bring them into that first line. Perhaps the action of the other character leads to an immediate reaction in your protagonist, or there’s a way to start the story one line earlier. Maybe the dialogue of the other character hits your protagonist’s ears a certain way. Attaching the reader to their story “guide” in that first line increases your chances for getting them to stick around for the rest of your book. Give Your Characters Indirect Lines of Dialogue I like to start with a situation. What trouble could your protagonist get into that relates to the events to follow in the book?
  9. Life in the Realm of Fantasy https://conniejjasperson.com/2022/10/17/nanowrimo-prep-part-4-plot-arc-amwriting/ Today we’re continuing prepping our novel by thinking about the plot, the story our characters inhabit. In post one, we thought about what kind of project we wanted to write–novels, short stories, poems, memoirs, personal essays, etc. Post two of this series introduced the protagonist(s), so we have an idea of who they are and what they do. In post three, we explored the setting, so we already know where they are and what their circumstances are. Now we’re going to design the conflict by creating a skeleton, a series of guideposts to write to. I write fantasy, but every story is the same, no matter the set dressing: Protagonist A needs something desperately, and Antagonist B stands in their way. What does the protagonist want? Everyone wants something. The story is about if they acquire it or not. Doubt, uncertainty, the unknown—these nouns comprise the story. This is where we have to sit and think a bit. Are we writing a murder mystery? A space-opera? A thriller? The story of a girl dealing with bulimia? Let’s write a historical fiction.
  10. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2022/10/here-be-monsters-writers-beware/ by Margie Lawson “Here Be Monsters” was printed on old nautical maps on regions that were uncharted. No one knew what was beyond. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. And unknowns were scary. In those days, cartographers drew in the off-the-map areas. They drew what they feared most. They drew monsters. They drew monsters devouring ships. They drew monsters devouring people. If they’d looked into the future, they could have drawn monsters devouring writers. Writers have their monsters too. Mind monsters. When faulty thinking rules your life, it’s a monster. Writers often sabotage themselves with faulty thinking. Negative thinking. Catastrophic thinking. And they let the mind monsters win. Can you manage your mind monsters? Manage your thinking? Manage your mood? Sure. If you identify and challenge your faulty thinking. Faulty thinking is like imaginary beasts in those unknown areas. Negative thinking grows and grows and grows until it takes over, dominating your thoughts. Dominating your career. Review the Faulty Thinking Traps below. You’ll find yourself, your spouse, teenager, mother-in-law, sister, best friend, and neighbor in these thinking traps. Everyone you know thinks and speaks from several of these faulty thinking traps every day. Or they’ve had a truly insightful, change-driven therapist. I’ve been through all these traps over my lifetimes. Sometimes many times. I’ve heard them from myself and others. What I find interesting about this post is the legend of the monsters on maps. I did not know that. It makes sense. Now, I know why others add those monsters.
  11. Roberta Writes https://roberta-writes.com/2022/10/19/authors-whose-prose-is-compelling-or-outstandingly-beautiful/
  12. Meeka’s Mind https://acflory.wordpress.com/2022/10/18/woman-builds-her-own-hobbit-home/
  13. Chris the Story Reading Ape https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2022/10/19/motivation-how-what-drives-us-defines-us-by-kristen-lamb/ Motivation is at the core of everything human-related. It’s the reason for the common axiom in law enforcement: Before you look at outlaws, look at in-laws. We, humans, LIKE to believe we are super complicated when, by and large, we are anything but. Articulating character motivation can help us when it comes to better storytelling. The best stories are, at their heart, SIMPLE. Notice I said, at their heart. Storytelling might be simple, but so is a top-notch soufflé. In fact, soufflés are an art form all to themselves. Simple? Yes. Easy? By no means. Yet, regardless of the time period, humans don’t change all that much. At least their core motivations.
  14. Books and Such https://teripolen.com/2022/10/18/badmoonrising-the-haunting-of-chatham-hollow-by-mae-clair-and-staci-troilo-paranormal-supernatural-horror/ I was over the moon when two of my favorite writers co-authored a book. When I learned it involved mediums, seances, and paranormal research teams, I felt like they’d written it just for me (I’ll pretend they had me in mind). They named different King novels that have stuck with them – but not Misery this time around. Welcome, Mae Clair and Staci Troilo! Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most? MAE: Easily The Shining. I read it as a teenager and there are parts of that book that still stick in my head and creep me out. I picked up a new paperback copy last year and want to read it again. As spooky as it was, it was addictive! STACI: All his stories have left me disturbed for one reason or another, but if I have to pick one, I’ll choose The Stand. Randall Flagg is so disturbing, and the end-of-the-world plot touches a little too close to home. Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most? MAE: I’m not a fan of true crime or unsolved murders, but I would REALLY like to know the truth about Lizzie Borden! These two ladies are always a class act!

7 responses to “Hometowns that Stick with Us by Traci Kenworth”

  1. The sad thing about growing up in a critical environment is the impressions remain long after moving away. Excellent post, Traci, and thanks for the link.

    1. You’re right, John. And you’re welcome!

  2. Thanks very much for the share to Debby’s post and a great selection of other links too. I am sorry that your school years were not the greatest at times. I moved so much I always seemed to be the odd one out and I was very happy to finally leave at 16 and go to college and then out in the world. Sorry you have had such a rough to of Covid and hope that your arthritis is not related to long covid and that the doctor can help you manage more comfortably… xxx

  3. You now have me thinking about my own hometown, from the obstacles to the happy moments.

    1. It’s nice to reminisce sometimes, Christy! Both the good and the bad memories serve a purpose.

  4. HI Traci, I felt sad reading this. It is not nice to feel isolated from your peers. I was never a person who fitted in well at school either. I was to different in every way from my choice of books to music to my empathetic attitudes towards other. I was very happy to leave school behind me and now I can be different without ever feeling I shouldn’t be. So much pressure to conform at school. It’s quite strange really how our educational institutions are the very places that crush difference, creativity and innovation. Anyhow, you have risen above it so it’s just a few less pleasant memories. Thanks for including my post here.

    1. Thank you, Robbie! I feel better having left school behind as well. It’s funny how I’ve learned more on my own than ever at that school. I do miss a few of the people as I’ve gotten to know them better on FB. Funny, how the years have allowed us to drift back together and be friends.

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