My section leader just coughed up almost $200 for timpani heads for our marching band at my request. Now, there were days I could've strangled him to death on sight when we were in high school, but the most gut-wrenching thing I remember is when his senior-year girlfriend wanted him to quit band. We had to be squirrelly as hell about it; the director wrote him into the show anyway. We invited him to come watch band camp, just up the street from his house. It was the first football game that finally broke him: I remember him following us down to the school after halftime, and his going into a closed-door conversation with the director. When he emerged, he was One Of Us; we closed rank and it was never mentioned again.
I've known him since we were in diapers. He pulled my hair EVERY day in kindergarten to the point that we had to sit up front in story circle on either side of the teacher, Miss Margie. I reminded him of that the night that he graduated. There are some fairly hair-raising stories I could tell about him, but I'll refrain. What I will say is that he is the finest musician to ever come out of our high school, and I am totally impressed with his willingness to give back to the program. Mind you, I expect no less.
Which brings me to the philosophical thought du jour: there's nothing wrong with where we're from- yes, it's a small town, and it had its good and bad points. I knew I could count on him because a) band is forever and b) our mommas raised us right. In context, the people with whom we grew up are a known quantity; we blaze our own trails, though, sometimes right on across the county line. If you're worried overmuch about "what people will think/say", remember this: back home, you'll know who said it, and you shouldn't be afraid to throw it back on them. (Sticks and stones, folks- I am the ninja master of the snapback, and I did live back there for five years myself after grad school.) You're still one hell of a lot safer in the bosom of Smalltownland with 'your people' than living somewhere 'off'...and I believe, with all my heart, that despite its flaws, it's a great place to raise a family. I wish I had one to raise- if I did, I'd be back like a shot.