I don't try very hard, but I do make an effort to make Hometown be Hometown and not what it really is- Augusta. But, when things like golf tournaments are mentioned or the Savannah River- it makes it a little silly to not say Augusta, but rather- I prefer the pronoun of Hometown.
I grew up in a funny place and a funny time of Hometown. People I went to school with are now professional actors making their mark in Hollywood, professional golfers touring the world on the PGA, kids that I played soccer with are now running international companies, or ones that I went to church with now own NASCAR teams, college bowl football games, and other things that were not even in my pipe dream list.
When I was a kid- I rubbed elbows with other kids who would make their mark on this world and in my generation. They were just like every other kid- skinning knees, making friends and enemies alike, and generally just being kids.
This is not to say that I have all of them on speed dial and regularly call them to see how their visit with the Dalai Lama went, it's more of an acknowledgment that I knew some really cool people before they were who they are and it is, no other word for it, it's neat to see them on television, on the big screen, or on stage. Those kids once had braces, went to prom, and had their hearts broken- just like me.
There is a band that some might have heard of, Lady Antebellum, or Lady A for the die-hard fans, that found their roots here in Hometown. Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood are two kids that I knew growing up. They probably don't remember me. Actually, I have no doubt that I am barely just a blip on the screen in the story of their time spent here. If they were not famous, I would recognize them on the street and perhaps the same could be said for them- but they are famous- and they are still who they are.
I remember Dave as being very active at Trinity where several of my friends attended church. I remember him being kind, funny, and one of those all-around nice guys who never knew a stranger. And, even then, he could sing.
Listening to their music, sometimes they reference their youth or youthful indiscretions. My mind takes a trip and I start to wonder if I know the girl they are singing about- or singing to. Did I go to school with them? Were they in my sorority or did we share a class? Maybe not- but it is fun to think.
Last week, Lady A (die-hard fan-- right here) came to Hometown to do a benefit concert for the Ronald McDonald House that the children's hospital is raising money for. The current Ronald McDonald House is old and not on the hospital's campus. It is downtown in... well... let's just say there are better parts of Augusta to be staying.
Up on stage, I saw two guys who had not aged and three people who were clearly friends before all else. As pictures popped up on the large screen behind them- they were not pictures of the band with other famous people. They were pictures of them with their families. Images of their babies, their pregnancies, weddings, and adventures poured down the screen. It was like looking at any one of my normal friend's Facebook page. These guys were still just those same guys that they had always been. Except -- famous.
The plan was that after the band was paid, the proceeds would go towards the funding of the new house. When it came time to pay Dave, Charles, and the rest of the band- they said that they were owed nothing. Take everything and put it towards the final goal.
I have no idea how much money that is or isn't, but I know that is something amazing, humbling, and wonderful. Maybe just because they are famous, they are still just like those kids I knew twenty years ago-- just like every other child, making friends and enemies alike, skinning knees, and just trying to find a little path to call their own.
I am not envious of their fame, nor do I doubt that it came from nothing short of hard-work, dedication, and love for the art and for their family- I revel in the fact that they have had such successes - both in work and kin- and I am proud that their roots are somewhere intertwined with mine and ours.