This post is late because we were at my tenth college reunion...that, however, is another post (soon).
I took this picture outside the train station in Vienna, 12 years ago. It is definitely right up there with the weirdest things I have ever seen anywhere. It appears to be a statue of a pig. A naked pig, with big muscles, wearing a large tie, a hat, glasses, and white gloves. And, of course, pink shoes. The purpose or symbolism of such a statue, however, entirely eludes me.
I'm cheating, of course, because Vienna is by no stretch of the imagination my hometown. I've been there once. As indicated by the title, however, Vienna was my great-grandfather's* hometown.
This week's theme got me thinking about that concept of "hometown." It wasn't really necessary thinking, since the assignment was clear enough: take a picture of something weird where you live. But that word "hometown" always gets me. Where I live now is one of three places I could call "hometown," and whenever I am asked where I am "from," where is my "hometown," I wonder which city counts as my hometown, if there is one place that is The Answer. The place where I was born? The town where I went to high school? Or the middle city that imprinted upon me so deeply that I have chosen it as my adult home?
I'm hardly the the only person on earth not to hail from a single place -- three cities is even a rather short list, in comparison to many people I know including my mother -- but coming from a single "hometown" is a quality I envy. All three of my cities have had their influence on this person I am. I can't say I'm sorry to have lived the life that created this self I inhabit. But the grass is always greener...
*And even with this claim, I'm still cheating. My great-grandfather always called Vienna his hometown, but it wasn't. He hailed from a small village (shtetl) that was at different times in Austro-Hungary, Germany, and Poland. (Now it's in the Ukraine.) He did live in Vienna for several years while he did his apprenticeship with a furrier, and from Vienna he immigrated to the U.S. Here in the States he met my great-grandmother (a true city girl from Budapest). They courted, married, raised children and then grandchildren, and finally died in the same Big City that is one of my hometowns...the one I have chosen for my adult life. My heart is here in the city of my ancestors (but also, my heart is in another Big City, where the ancestors on the other side chose to settle). I did feel an unexpected tug of familiarity when I visited Vienna, a city I'd never seen before but that somehow still lived underneath my skin. Place matters so much, often in unexpected ways... (just one of the reasons it makes me angry when people suggest to me blithely that if I'm not satisfied with the rights I have where I currently live, then I should move...)