Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

My Town

Published in Blog.

What’s to make of the city as its population continues to change, the transplants quickly outweighing the natives, yesterday’s vision being resurfaced by an incoming freshman class of civilian? In that pocket of confusion, the circumstances of this city’s facelift served as a fine excuse to guard myself from committing to whatever any of this really is.

There’s a division that was created in my head several years ago, with one of my more prominent internal voices arguing that Nashville is a city divided, and I was on the lesser side of whatever that divide might be. It’s all related to insecurities: You’re either one of worth or you’re not. Beauty, cool, and success all play in to it, but at its core it was only just a way to validate an internal feeling of victimhood. When you tell yourself you’re never going to be one of them, whoever they are, there are few limitations to the levels of slack you’re willing to cut yourself.

I felt I deserved to be welcomed from the moment I got here. Without realizing it at the time, I used that sense of entitlement to paint myself something of a social refugee. “Look at all the outsiders,” I thought. “I’m an outsider, too — they should be welcoming me.” But in that headspace, it felt like if you weren’t one of the original outsiders, you’d never be welcome. I blamed others because I’d convinced myself I was insignificant.

I’ve not been much for prayer, but several weeks ago I committed. With eyes closed, my hope was to set the right tone for whoever was listening, myself included. I’ve been here a while, but now I’m trying something new. What makes a town someone’s town isn’t just living there, but being present there. It’s terrifying.