I stood in reverence before a glass-encased mummy at the Cairo Museum. My Egyptian niece stood a few steps away – her arms crossed, her foot tapping. When we left, I apologized for staying so long. “I’m sure you’re here all the time,” I added. She answered, “I think we came once when I was in school.”
A few days later, my husband and I were in a hired car on our way to the Pyramids. I asked him about his trips to the site as a child. “I don’t remember going,” he said.
Finally, later in the week, as we strolled into the gates of the Citadel, Bill related fond memories of picnics on the lawn under the trees. I began to pepper him with questions about the museums housed in the buildings scattered throughout the fortress. “We just came up here for picnics,” he replied.
OTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
Unfortunately, my relatives in Cairo are not alone. Sitting in a pub in northwest England, chatting with some locals, my traveling companion and I related the difficulties we’d had earlier in the day. I was anxious to see the Gladstone Pottery Museum and a traffic circle kept dumping us someplace else. Our new friends thought going to the potteries was a capital idea, but they’d lived there all their lives and hadn’t made the fifteen minute trip themselves.
WHAT ARE YOU MISSING?
How about you? Do you split your leisure time between Starbucks and the couch in front of the TV or do you make the effort to be a tourist at home? I’ll admit it’s easy to be a tourist in a big city like Dallas. So, you might say, “there’s nothing to see in my little town,” but I’d say that’s just because you’re not looking.
A LITTLE TOWN CALLED GODLEY
What about Godley, Texas? In 2000, there were less than 300 families living in Godley. Imagine how few there were back in the early 1970’s. Yet, I went there with a friend from Stephen F. Autin State University and she thought I was lucky to be making the trip. She was sorry we’d miss the girl’s basketball game. I wasn’t a big fan of basketball, but after she shared stories of the team’s heroes, successes and defeats, I knew I was missing a real treat.
At least we’d be in time for the party after the game. Win or lose, after home games there was always a party. And by the time the party broke up, it would be late enough to see the Godley Cemetery where odd lights shone out in the wee hours of the morning. We’d sleep late on Saturday morning and then go to the mall. According to my friend it was the best mall in the world. Of course, her parents expected us to go to church Sunday morning, but the dinner her mom would cook after would make it worth the effort. My friend thought it was just too bad that we’d have to head back to Nacogdoches so quickly, because there was so much to do in Godley.
I want to tell you that this city girl had a blast out in the boonies. The big post game party was an ice chest with sodas and a bowl of pretzels. The lights in the cemetery didn’t appear and we had to drive all the way to Fort Worth for the mall. Yet my friend’s attitude toward her home made the trip a winner. The lives of the almost-300 families in Godley sounded more exciting than Peyton Place, when my friend described them. Though we didn’t see the weird lights of Godley Cemetery, she regaled me with plenty of stories about nights when the lights had spooked both the young and the old. Every mile of dirt road had a tale of drama and wonder attached to it. My friend was thrilled with Godley and she made it exciting for me.
BECOME A HOMETOWN TOURIST
So get up off the sofa, google your hometown, drop by the Chamber of Commerce, talk to your next door neighbor. You probably live in a great destination and don’t even know it. Let me know what you discover as a hometown tourist.