The third track on Bob Dylan’s latest CD, Together Through Life, is “My Wife’s Home Town.” This keenly written, tongue-in-cheek bluesy lament is classic Dylan. I chuckle every time I listen to it (which means I’ve been jovial a lot lately.) In a gravelly voice, sounding distinctly Dylanesque, but also reminiscent of Louis Armstrong, Bob sings about the town from whence his wife hails. It’s a damned good song, and my language here is intentional. Every wife should listen to the song and wonder if her husband can relate. I’m sure mine can sometimes.
I wouldn’t really want to be from Bob’s wife’s home town. I would like to at least have one. Ever since I (for better or for worse) signed up for a Facebook account, I’ve felt pressure to claim one. So confused was I about the true definition of a home town, I had to look it up in Webster’s. (This is a bunny trail, but I thought you might find it interesting. I did.) Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary does not have a definition for home town; however, he lists one for homestead, “the [inclosure] or ground immediately connected with the mansion.” Funny. I don’t normally think of homesteads having mansions. But I like that this is kind of a history-in-a-nutshell definition. Anyway…my 2008 Eleventh Edition, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Edition, defines home town as “the city or town where one was born or grew up; also: the place of one’s principal residence.” This only complicates things. Do I put where I was born, where I grew up, or my principal residence?
The town where I was literally born is 7.3 miles from the town where I actually lived for the first nine years of my life. Most of the friends and relatives, who shared this rural Oklahoma address, have either moved away or died. No one would probably care one way or another if I claimed that town as my home town. Maybe I will put that.
More people would likely remember me from the Nebraska town where I lived for the second nine years of my life, even though I left after high school graduation, came back once when I was still going to college in the state, and then came back two more times for friends’ weddings. Shouldn’t a person at least visit her home town more than three times in 26 years?
I’ve lived in four towns/cities since high school. In some ways I’ve probably done more “growing up” in these than in the first two. I’ve made really wonderful friends in all these towns. That makes me wonder. Before I read the “real” definition of home town, I had the romantic notion that it would be defined as something more like the place in the Cheers theme song, “…where everybody knows your name – and they’re always glad you came.” Could I get away with just putting “Friends” as my home town? Maybe in the end, I’m just what a couple of book writers described Dylan as – a “Restless Pilgrim.”