Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Writing About Your Hometown

Margaret Randall talked a lot about her desire to return to her hometown, which helped inspire her to write "My Town." While I was born in Omaha, I feel like Las Vegas is my hometown. Up until very recently, I never thought to write about those experiences growing up away from the Strip and what pop culture obsesses over in Vegas. It got me thinking about the things I did want to discuss: Red Rock Canyon, the Spaghetti Bowl of highways around the Strip, a summer job working on the Strip, etc.

What do you guys think you would concentrate on if you were to write a short memoir about your hometown?


  1. That's a really interesting question for me. I was born and raised in Aurora, CO until I was 12, and I'm very grateful for a good childhood there. Thinking about your question, I realized that what defines childhood in Aurora for me are the sunsets.
    In a hypothetical memoir about my time there, I would concentrate on the times I tagged along with my older brother as he drove around in the late afternoon, to Angelo's (the CD store), to Albertson's, to his best friend's house, listening to his music blast through the stereo while the sunset streamed in through the car windows.
    I would also concentrate on standing in my back yard, and the way the sun used to hit the lush green grass and the leaves on the cottonwood trees as it set behind the pink and orange clouds covering the mountains in the evening. (Mountains are in the west in Colorado.)
    In such a memoir, I would probably have to mention the recent tragedy at the movie theater in Aurora, the same one I grew up watching Disney movies like A Bug's Life and Tarzan in. The day that happened, in between frantically texting friends and checking Facebook to make sure all my friends and family back there were okay (only one was there, and he was not physically injured), I kept thinking about those sunsets I grew up with. Even with all the sad things that Aurora has had to go through, and the fact that it's only known by that one event to most of the country, to me, Aurora will never be defined by that one tragic headline. For me, the first thing I think of when I think of Aurora are the sunsets, and that's what I would write a memoir about if given the chance.

  2. I would probably talk about all the places where I have done some running here in Albuquerque. I was in cross country, so I've run all over the foothills, by the river, and in many different parks. Not that any such hypothetical memoir would be cross country centric, but I would talk about those places.

    I would also talk about the experiences I had in school. I would focus on experiences that have to do with Albuquerque specifically and not just the stuff that could've happened at any school in any town in the United States. For example, I went to a middle school with mostly Mexican students, so I would mention that. I would talk about experiences with the balloon fiesta and trips across New Mexico with my family.

    I would probably never write a memoir, however.

  3. This is an interesting question. I think I would also talk about the foothills and the Rio Grande, like you Anna. The reason would have to be that these places are rather unique to New Mexico. My family used to go on walks at the foothills, back when my brothers and I were younger and didn’t have complicated school and work schedules. I would talk about the times we would buy Chinese food and eat at a park near the end of Lomas and from there walk through trails on the Sandia mountains.

    I think I would want to talk about the people. I transit Central every day and I would discuss the amount of crime and poverty that goes on there. Maybe bring some awareness (yea that’s my political science major talking!) about the homeless people here and how many Native Americans ride up and down the bus while hiding their vodka underneath their sweaters and taking a sip when the bus driver isn’t looking. However, I would also talk about the friendly encounters I have had with New Mexican people. I think people here are friendly if you give yourself a chance to talk to them. We really are unique in the sense of the amount of diversity we have. I embrace those differences and I believe they have made me who I am; therefore I would have to include that in my memoir.

    Emma, I think it is wonderful that you remember Aurora for what it was to you, not what the news outlets have made it for the entire country. If someone mentions Aurora, I automatically think about the theater shootings. It is nice to read that you have different memories of that place.

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    1. That is a great question. I really thought about writing a memoir and all the things I would say would be about my time growing up here in Albuquerque. It would be in different stages. I remember really fond memories about growing up near Mitchell Elementary School. I knew that place inside and out. I went to school there with my sister and friends around the neighborhood, then on the weekends we would go up there and play ball and different games. Then during the summer we would go almost every night. We never got bored going up there. We met new people and invented new games and it was so much fun.

      Then that changed when we moved closer to the mountains and the new place would be Piedra Lisa. As I mentioned in class I would go up there all the time. It became a ritual every time my family came into town we would hike up to Piedra Lisa. I have been there during the different seasons and seen different sunsets from there. You can see the whole city filled with lights and then mountains behind you and desert far in the distance. It is an interesting contrast between nature and city life separated by a long road.

      The next stage of my life would be talking about my time at UNM the different people I met and experiences I had. The different restaurants and stores on Central and the different events held in Nob Hill. I also think I would also talk about the different place I traveled to in Albuquerque and New Mexico like Red River, Taos, Ruidoso, Santa Fe, Jemez, Sky City, and other places that I really enjoyed learning about their history and that I got to learn and experience some of that rich culture that New Mexico has to offer.

  5. This is an interesting topic. If I were to write a memoir type story, one of the things I would probably focus on is the places I saw on my bus ride in middle school. I didn't take a bus in elementary school, so it was new to me. I remember thinking the bus stop seemed really, really far from my house, when in fact it was only 2 short neighborhood blocks. I also remember being confused by the fact that a bus full of children was not required to wear seatbelts (this actually still boggles my mind). One of my memories of ridding the bus is as it drove near the Washington and Constitution area. There are a bunch of huge houses. Back then they seemed like mansions. They still seem big to me, but definitely not as amazing or big as I remember them. I haven’t in a long time, but I used to dream about getting off at the wrong stop up there and getting lost and then getting adopted by some rich family like little orphan Annie (which is weird because I love my family and wouldn’t trade them for the world, and we were fairly well off ourselves…). Anyways…there are lots of other memories I could include, like the way my childhood neighborhood has changes over the years, or all the time I spent at the park near my house. My Albuquerque was pretty small until I learned to drive.
    It is interesting to see everyone else’s versions of Albuquerque or their home towns. I have family in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Aurora, so for me, I also have my version of Aurora which is probably somewhere in between Emma’s and the general publics, (closer to the general publics because I have only been there a few times). And my version of Las Vegas is a mix of the media’s version and my experience in a hotel that no longer exists that I can remember the name of because the one and only time I was there, I was 10.


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