This time of year they are all over town.
Like swallows returning to Capistrano,
legions of long lost Lewistownians flock
back to central Montana once the warm
weather arrives. It's not hard to pick them
out of the crowd. Most sport coifs that are
a cut above any one can find locally. Many
of the male species sport sports coats to
dinner or church. Yet whats most obvious
is their happiness at being back "home."
You see, absence makes the heart grow
fonder. Even if things are not exactly as
one remembers. Can one truly go home?
Something to crow about
A local community group of which I'm
a member recently completed a survey
about our downtown. Over six hundred
provided data the majority being current
Lewistown or central Montana residents.
In the end less than ten percent of those
who responded identified themselves as
former born and raised residents. Sadly
after sifting through the feedback - the
comments - it became quite apparent that
while many former residents still remain
frequent visitors, few if any had anything
good to say about their home town.
Life goes on. Meaning that we're all
on a constant evolutionary track. The
ones who left and now occasionally
revisit maintain a nostalgic view of
the Lewistown that was. Confronted
by reality, they leave disappointed.
Which explains the vitriolic spews
of those who prefer to compare our
community to anything but the here
and now. Rather than support those
they've left behind, they mourn the
past. With no knowledge of why it
can never again be just like it was.
Out of the mouth of babes
To be clear the majority of said survey's
horrible, nasty, negative, mean spirited,
and vicious comments were from those
few and far between. Thus sadly a not
so silent minority of former residents,
those who claim Lewistown as "home
sweet home," talked plenty of nothing.
Hence I'm rather disappointed with our
prodigal sons and daughters. How can
we possibly benefit when distant friends
and relatives attack us from afar?! Have
they forgotten what it was like to live in
the land they now deem as misbegotten?!
When push comes to shove
Fortunately some errant offspring finally
do come home to stay. For many reasons
quite a few of the far flung return, retire,
and reinvest their futures into their past.
The good news is that those who have
misspent their youth elsewhere are now
spending their hard earned time and cash
in Lewistown. However what's even more
invaluable is that they bring back to the
fold their knowledge and experiences.
Thus everyone benefits from their time
away from home. All the reason that we
should be happy to welcome them back.
Do not disturb?
There are obvious reasons why some
of the locals who never left feel rather
proprietary about this town. They see
little reason to change and thus resist
any attempt to take Lewistown to a
better place. Few seem to care about
what others did while they were away.
Instead time has stood still and those
who return to the fray are expected
to pick up exactly where they left off.
While older and wiser, they are treated
like rebellious kids. Exiled to the town
time out chair reserved for outsiders.
Contrary to newspaper reports - I'm not
a returnee. Rather I'm someone who fell
in love with a native son. Like it or not
I refuse to be marginalized by the myopic.
And while newcomers like me are still in
a bit of a Montanan learning curve, we've
got plenty to offer. The difference is we're
not afraid of our city elders as we've no
residual childhood baggage holding us
back. We recent transplants are ready to
dive in and perform radical surgery if
necessary. Anything to save this place
that we've chosen to love and call home.
Glass half full?
In closing I have one request to those
who've been there, done that and have
no intention of ever coming back. IF
YOU DON'T HAVE ANYTHING
GOOD TO SAY - BE QUIET. The
last thing Lewistown needs is a bunch
of armchair experts criticizing us from
afar. However, if you're willing to put
some skin in the game and actually try
to make a difference - we all welcome
your constructive feedback. If nothing
else, please stop the abuse and respect
the place that you claim to love dearly.
To those who are reinvesting their
hard earned lives back into the place
from whence you came - BRAVO!!
We welcome you back with open
hearts and minds. But please, once
you've settled in, SPEAK UP! We
realize you probably returned home
because you're tired and burnt out.
However we can all learn from your
hiatus from town. Wherever you've
been - whatever you've done - it had
to have been worth your while. Let's
SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE!