I moved from my hometown in central Illinois at the age of 20. I haven't stepped foot in the city since oh Nichole was about 7, when my grandpa passed away, so what about 15 yrs? Of course my Mom is not happy about this, but honestly I had no reason to go back.....not even to visit her as she used to drag the kids and I to every single family member every single visit and made it exhausting and unpleasant. And to be frank, there is really nothing special about the city anyway. In it's hey day my hometown was a pretty great place to live. About the time husband and I moved away, it was already going downhill at an alarming rate. When the heaven knows how many tornadoes hit it that day in 1996 (made national news several of them hit at once all over the city).......the city decided instead of rebuilding certain areas to take over the land and get rid of the homes, claiming they were crack houses. Now we're not talking one block or just a few homes, we're talking block after block after block for several miles in many different areas of the city. The crack house thing was an excuse to rid the city of it's poorer areas in an attempt to make the city more appealing. Only you take away that much housing from the poor and you suddenly find yourself with major housing issues.....and a lot of enraged people. Gangs went into full swing, crime rate is higher than Chicgao (has one of the highest crime rates in the country), violent crime is rampant, jobs are scarce. So. Moved out and on and no regrets. I've been in touch with a few childhood friends via fb which is pretty wonderful as we took off from where we left off and it's like we've never been apart. I discovered a fb page yesterday that was a You Know You're From Such and Such when you remember........... (thus the trip down memory lane) Totally bad idea, evidently. I suddenly was like a person possessed. I read every post, but what really got me were the "historic" photos. These were of places I remember vividly. Some like Kresges with it's built in diner I practically lived at with grandma. It's where she hung out with her friends over coffee while I carefully picked my toy for under a dollar (including tax lol) and if I was really good and she had the money I'd get a piece of pumpkin pie with real whipped cream on top. The supermarket shopping center I passed each day on my way to and from school, where my dad worked nights after his day job at Staley's, where when they had their cookie machine we could go in and watch fresh baked cookies come down the belt and if we were polite and didn't beg the manager would let each of us have a hot chocolate chip cookie to munch on our way to school. Much of my life was centered around this supermarket as well, oddly enough. Then the city parks they way they once were.........My old high school, which is still in use, jr high school which is also oddly still in use........but the grade school did me in. It was a historic building built at the turn of the century. An awesome place to go to school, even if we didn't have the fancy playground equipment of the other more modern grade schools. I found out they tore it down this summer after a long battle to save it failed. So I went hunting for photos of it in it's prime. If there is one, I can't find it. I have 2 of right before it was torn down and they break my heart. It's like an old friend being tossed aside. I saved most of the photos I found that are linked with my childhood memories as many of those places no longer exist....actually most of them no longer exist thanks to the "facelift" the city counsel decided to do after the '96 tornadoes. The entire city has basically been gutted. And the facelift project did them no good. No new people flooded the city, no new business fought to move in. I'm not much of a crier, but I had tears in my eyes going through some of this stuff. There is the saying "you can never go home again", and it's so true. My mom gets upset that I won't come home to visit, but this is a huge part of the reason. She does notice the changes ect because she tells me about them when they happen.....but for her it's gradual. For me it's like a punch in my gut. When I go "home" now it's not my home anymore but a strange ugly violent city. I can't even take my kids or grandkids to look at this or that landmark linked to a memory because they no longer are there. Very very few are left. It's so sad that my hometown which was once a thriving wonderful place to grow up is now writhing in death throes. Sometimes a trip down memory lane is just plain bitter sweet. I have my now treasured photos, at least I can show these to my kids and grandkids. But I have no desire to step foot in my hometown again.