For 7 consecutive years of my life from ages 10 to 17 years old, I marched down Main Street in Martinez, CA, yelling this chant in my cheerleading uniform during our annual homecoming parade.
Trying to explain this cultural phenomenon to people who are not from a small town can be hard to do.
Trying to explain to them that “the same girls I was in first grade Blue Birds with, are the same girls I was a cheerleader with in junior and high school, and was bridesmaids with in my twenties,” can leave them scratching their heads.
What can I say? Small town roots run deep, so when I found out about Krista Stedman’s death last week, (cheerleader, class of 1986) , I was in shock. And then the tears came.
I was a little surprised that I cried because Krista and I weren’t that close, she was two years ahead of me. It must be those all those darn small town roots that are so deeply grafted in my inner being, that no matter how far I run away from them, come bubbling up to the surface. Just like when I hear a John “Cougar” Mellencamp song on the radio or watch an episode of the television show, "Friday Night Lights". (You MTZ people know what I am talking about.)
Educated in a small town
Taught to fear Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another born romantic that's me - John Mellencamp
It seems like when one of us dies, we all feel it.
I don’t live in Martinez now, I live in Oakland, and when people ask me where I am from, I cannot tell a lie. It is very important to me that I am not a poser. “I was born in Oakland, lived in Alameda until I was five years old, but I grew up in Martinez.”
After that response, they usually ask, “where’s Martinez?”
Where we grow up shapes who we are for the rest of our lives, for better or worse. It shapes our perspective and how we see the world. Once in a while, I would read about the occasional celebrity or musician who lied about his upbringing because he was embarrassed of his roots. Perhaps they wanted a more exciting story about their lives, but nothing is more interesting and exciting than the truth. Everyone has a story to tell and as a writer, I passionately feel that no one person’s true story is boring.
I pulled out my high school yearbook from my sophomore year and stared at the photo of Krista in the "homecoming court" page. You know you are from a small town when your high school yearbooks are within reach and not in a box somewhere. (Seriously people, I can pack away other memories, but yet all four yearbooks were on my bookshelf and easily accessible?) Apparently, the saying is true. You can take the girl out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the girl. Think the Movie: Sweet Home Alabama.
Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me
Krista, I can’t believe that you are gone, you were taken way too early from us. May you rest in peace.
Pop Warner- I totally remember these uniforms!