Denver City, Texas, is my hometown. Its population is just about 4,500. The landscape is not conventionally beautiful: the trees are rarely taller than you, the only water is located a few hundred feet beneath the ground and—at times—everything is brown, even the sky. It is neither a lie nor an exaggeration to say that it is located in the middle of nowhere. Austin, Dallas, El Paso, and Houston are all 400 miles away. It is unlikely that my hometown would exist if not for the millions of dollars buried thousands of feet below the surface. It is an oil field town.

After drilling began in the area, my hometown was added as an afterthought. Subdivisions fit snugly between the checkerboard pattern of oil wells. From the street, my house and my neighborhood appear normal—they could be located anywhere in the Southwest. Directly behind my house, just 200 feet from my back porch, is a pump jack—the most iconic symbol of the oil industry. 

It was not until I arrived at Bowdoin almost two years ago that I was able to reflect and appreciate the experience of growing up in Denver City and to understand the reasons why my family lived there. My feelings about home are greatly influenced by my father and his own experiences. His family moved four times while he was in school, so he promised himself that we would not move until my two younger sisters and I graduated from the same high school. His decision and his resolve puzzled me. Because he does not work in the oil industry, I was unable to see what he saw in the town. He put aside building his career so that my sisters and I would have a strong connection to a place. 

I enjoy returning home to a tight-knit community made up of people that I have known for the greater part of the past 15 years. We say that it takes a village to raise a child, and I know that the people in my community helped make me who I am. While growing up, I would often fantasize about what my life would be like had I grown up in a major city. I am now thankful that I did not. The relationships and friendships I built overshadow all shortcomings of the city, the landscape and the inconvenience of living an hour away from civilization. It is the kind of place that I want my kids to grow up in.