Friday, April 13, 2007

I Cannot Forget (Where It Is That I Come From)

But can be myself there in this small town?

With my 15th high school reunion rapidly approaching, my thoughts have turned more and more to the small town where I grew up. For the most part, my memories are very positive. Even though I felt I didn't fit in because my family lacked community roots (read: not related to anyone in the area), I did appreciate the opportunities a small town offered. When I left high school, I was a passionate advocate of small-town life. It was beyond my comprehension why anyone would want to put up with the overcrowding, pollution, traffic and crime one often finds in an urban atmosphere. When I left college, I recognized there were certain opportunities (concerts, museums, festivals, dance clubs, restaurants, shops) that cities had to offer and because of this, I actively pursued teaching positions in small communities that were close to larger towns.

That all changed when I moved to the metropolis of Seoul (population over 10 million). I fell in love with public transportation and saw the "car culture" of Kansas as an excessive necessity. I liked the energy of the city and there always seemed to be something going on. Living in Seoul significantly changed many of my attitudes and I've already posted about the many things I love about Seoul and Korea.

When my partner and I were looking at places to live in Canada, we felt drawn to big cities like Toronto. And while living here has definately been an adjustment, we already love many things this city has to offer. But like a homing pigeon, my heart is longing to return to where it all began. I feel that this community of over 4,000 holds the key to who I was, who I am and who I have yet to become. I look forward (with both dread and anticipation) to reuniting with the people with whom I spent thirteen formative years.

So in this nostalgic spirit, I'd like to commemorate this upcoming event with some fun facts! Enjoy!

tkaronto: the Iroquois word Toronto is likely derived from, meaning "place where trees stand in the water."
balotte: the French word Beloit is likely derived from, meaning "handsome ground"

4.0: square miles of Beloit
243.21: square miles of Toronto

4,019- the population of my hometown.
18,000- the population of my neighbourhood.
2,629,030: the population of my current city.

96.94%: population of people who look like me in my hometown.
73%: non-white population of my neighbourhood.
42.8%: Toronto residents who belong to a visible minority group

65%: recent immigrants of my 'hood.
0.4%: foreign born where I grew up.

2nd place: To Toronto for highest percentage of foreign-born population among world cities, (after Miami, Florida).

Ancestries in my hometown: German (36.0%), English (11.0%), United States (9.8%), Irish (9.0%), Swedish (3.2%), Dutch (2.4%).
Cultural groups in my current community: Sri Lankans (7.8%), Filipinos (21.9%), Chinese (8%), Italian (1%) and Black (11.2%).

150: languages Toronto's 911 emergency services are equipped to respond in.

1.8- the 2005 homicide rate in Toronto (per 100,000)
24.9-the 2003 homicide rate in Beloit (per 100,000)

78: the actual number of murders in Toronto (2005)
1: the actual number of murders in Beloit (2003)

1,623: total private households in Beloit
943,000: total private households in Toronto

6,685: same-sex Toronto couples (registered as permanent partners in the 2001 census)
3.24: Lesbian Beloit couples (0.2% of all 1,623 Beloit households)
1.623: Gay Beloit couples (0.1% of all households) (counted as self-reported same-sex unmarried-partner households) *Question: If one has a fraction of a couple, aren't they, by definition, no longer a couple?*

39.6 years: Median age of a Beloitian.
36.9 years: Median age of a Torontarian.

1959: The year Gene Keady started his basketball coaching career at Beloit High School.
2000: The year Keady won a Gold Medal in the Olympic Games in Sydney as an assistant coach for the Dream Team.
2005: The year he accepted a position of an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.

Toronto is an important centre for the media, publishing, telecommunications and information technology industries.

11%: most common Beloit industries for males (agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting) .
10%: of Beloit male industries for males that sell supplies to the guys above.
24% most common Beloit industries for women (health care).

120%: Beloit's historical tornado activity that is greater than the overall U.S. average. (It is near the Kansas state average.)
207-260 mph: the most recent (6/15/1992) category 4 tornado near Beloit. 4.7 miles away from the Beloit city center, it caused between $50,000 and $500,000 in damages.

383: total number of students at Beloit Junior/Senior High School (grades 7-12)
89,000: total number of students in the 104 Toronto public high schools.

53: total number of students in my graduating class of 1992
8: total number of classmates I have kept in touch with over 15 years.

30ish: my guess of how many alumni will actually show up for this reunion.
15ish: my guess of how many alumni I will actually enjoy catching up with.

4.5: hours it takes to fly from Toronto to Kansas City (including layovers).
4: hours it takes to drive from Kansas City to Beloit (not including pit stops).

$152 (CDN): estimated loss in my paycheck as a result of two days off.
$333.26 (USD): cost of roundtrip flight ticket to Kansas City
priceless: the stories I'll have when I return!


Kethryvis said...

Damn, I got soooo distracted by this post!! I ended up browsing the Beloit websites for the last half hour. MEMORIES!!

But I have to say, if your family felt you didn't have "community roots", think about how we felt moving into Beloit!! I mean, we were from *gasp!* out of state, and my parents had lived in... CALIFORNIA!! The horrors!

Take a camera and take lots of pictures in Beloit... I'd love to see what the place looks like nowadays. Tho I'm sure it's not *too* different than when we were growing up there :)

Jolie said...

Wow, that was a ton o' facts and stats. I did like where you posted how many people would be at the reunion followed by the number of people you would actually like to see at the reunion.

I can relate to a lot of your sentiment about growing up in a small town. I think the perfect blend is to be raised in a small town and then move to a big city. There is something special about a childhood in the country. I'm so thankful for mine.

I can't wait to hear all of the stories! Good times!

connie said...

It's interesting to revisit your hometown once in a while. I attended my 10th and 25th class reunions. About 3/4 of our class of 22 (yep - small town for me, too) attended the 10th and about 1/2 came to our 25th. The snobs are still snobs, the nice ones are still nice, and the pair voted Most Popular still think they're all that. But my next-door-neighbor and I (we both ended up in careers with the phone company 2,000 miles apart) enjoyed catching up with each other at both events. Have fun!

Reid Dalgleish said...

I grew up in a teeny weeny town in Manitoba, Dan, so I know where you're coming from. My graduating class was a whopping 19 people, most of whom I had gone to school with my entire life. Interestingly, after we graduated, most of us went our separate ways and realized the size of the world outside our little enclave, and most don't even keep in touch anymore. There aren't many people my age in our hometown anymore, thus we never had a 10th or 15th reunion. For many years, I was angry towards my upbringing -- for all the opportunities that I never had in or out of school since our town was so small, and the 'what ifs' -- had I been exposed to x, would I be doing y today? However, the hustle of the city wears on a person after awhile too. The older I get, the more I appreciate the simplicity and slowed down existence of a small town. Luckily most of my extended family still lives there so I try to get back every couple of years. I still find visiting very tedious, sometimes boring (but only in the winter when there's nothing to do). But I do appreciate it much more today and my brother and I have full intention of buying the homestead from my dad in the next few years. Good investment? Not sure. But it will be a good Plan B if things don't work out so well.

Enjoy your trip home!

Teacher_Jen said...

Funny isn't it? I feel the exact opposite! Growing up in the big metroplis' all over Asia made me yearn for the small town American dream! :) To each his own, right?