Saturday, August 05, 2006

Continuing that discussion

It was a discussion for another time - why not now?

You'll remember in the previous post I made reference to just how different my life is from growing up until now.

My youth was spent entirely in a small town in Pa. - Lehighton - which has 5,000 people or so. In the photo to the right (courtesy of the Lehighton Chamber of Commerce website), you'll see a fountain in a park in the middle of town.

It's one of those typical, small towns in the state. A good chunk of my extended family lived nearby; and with my mom's job in one of the local banks, there weren't many people in the town that we had no connection to. The town wouldn't completely shut down on Friday nights, but there were more than just parents and girlfriends at our football games.

(Though Lehighton's conference affiliation has changed a few times since I graduated, during my time there we played in a league of large and small schools alike. The smallest school of the bunch, Notre Dame, was a Catholic school near Easton and is notable as the school of IRL driver Marco Andretti. Anyway, I happened to go to college with ND's quarterback, who was a year younger than me. While reminiscing about our high school days, he paid us the highest compliment: "You guys were fast," he said, "and you hit like a son of a bitch.")

It was your normal small-town life, not different than any of the towns in our county - Lansford, Jim Thorpe, Palmerton. I used to enjoy taking trips to my aunt and uncle's house in the northern suburbs of Baltimore. They had a supermarket across the street! And a couple of restaurants a block away! Suburban living, what a concept! I still remember thinking how cool it would be to live in such a place.

Of course, back then I wasn't so concerned with cost of living and traffic nightmares, which can be a source of daily frustration in life these days. Because now, I'm as suburban as it gets (though our nearest supermarket is two blocks away).

The building to our right (found on a Yahoo image search) is the dominant structure in our little corner of Alexandria: the Hilton. Clearly, that's not something you'd find in Lehighton.

My daily commute takes me through one of the zaniest corridors of highway imaginable, the Mixing Bowl in Springfield (another shot here), while traveling a portion of one of the most important highways in the east, I-95.

I spent four days last week at Redskin Park. That an NFL team's headquarters is a short drive away is another unfathomable aspect of life today.

My wonderful wife works for a United States Senator (following up on the cool jobs discussion, she pulled an 18-hour day on Thursday as the Senate wrapped up business before its August recess) who I've had the chance to meet. There's a photo of us with him during a constituent breakfast; Harry Reid is there as well, but this was back when he was assistant minority leader.

I know more about politics than a sportswriter should - and knew a little bit before I met my wife. Since then, though, my knowledge has jumped exponentially.

When I drive to softball games on Thursday, tourists can sometimes be a source of frustration. Lehighton doesn't exactly have a tourism industry (though Jim Thorpe certainly does).

But it's been a fun ride. Contrasting the past and the present is an interesting exercise, and one that I find rather humbling.

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