Home is Everywhere
I am not from here (Florida).
I moved here from California, but I am not from there. I moved there from North Carolina, not a Carolinian either. Before that, I was in Indiana, Tennessee, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia...
If you counted, that is 7 states.
I was born in Virginia, my parents both in the U.S. Navy. I don't remember those days, only photo proof that I loved to be naked in the yard.
We settled in Tennessee when I was about 10, so I always say I "grew up" there. It is the majority of my childhood years. Some of my best years and most fond memories. My best friends live there, my children born there. My mom still lives there. That is home for me.
California was my first real adventure adult-ing on my own. The people there made it home. A very small moment in time was there for me, but powerful nonetheless.
I'm home now. In a house that I created a home in for my children. A place where they raise their animals and go to school. We have our church and friends. Routines and spontaneity. Florida is home, because this is where we are.
This year, I went home for 4th of July. There had been rumors the last few years that the middle school I attended was closing. I drove by and had to stop. Emma was with me and I was telling that it was where I went to school for a few years. I met my best friend Kearstin there. Brittany, Ericka, Katie, Jackie, Lacey. I had my first kiss in the hallway by the math room. 9/11 happened while I was in that building. Kids cracked jokes, not understanding the seriousness of that event. Teachers cried, kids were picked up early. Nothing was the same that day as we say in homeroom watching it on TV.
I played the best years of my sports there, back when they were for fun and not competition.
I looked over that fence and just remembered.
A few more miles down the road was my teenage church. I was invited to homecoming there by Ericka. I never left. That building is where I found out how much God loved me. I cried in those pews, I sang, I laughed, I held a boys hand. I met Chris there, and while we were never close friends, there was some tie between us. He was always there. I prayed for him while he was deployed. I've watched his child grow. We've talked about life. I thought about Pastor Noah. He baptized me on my 16th birthday, he wrote an inscription on a bible and gave it to me at my high school graduation. That bible is in my purse as I type this.
I pulled in that driveway and just remembered.
I drove by the intersection where I was in an accident that I likely shouldn't have survived.
I drove by the pizza place where I had my first job. I remembered Roland, who isn't with us anymore. I saw him before he passed away, I had walked in and he looked at me... trying to place my face. Then he realized it was me. He hugged me so tight and said he loved me. That was the last thing I heard his Brooklyn accent say, and for that I'm grateful.
I went home this summer and I just remembered.
Home is wherever you are and wherever you are is home.
I am grateful that I don't live there now. I fear those memories wouldn't be as sweet if I did.
Go home friends. Drive a slow back road. Remember the songs that played, the friends that were made. Bonfires and Friday nights. Parking lots and driveway kisses. Life and deaths. Dreams that were larger than life. Sometimes, you just need to go back.