Has anyone out there heard that country song Where I'm From? I heard it one day when I was scanning the stations on my way home from work and at first I wasn't too impressed. Then I heard the chorus and suddenly, I was all nostalgic and started thinking about home.
I love the fact that I grew up in what was once a small little community by the name of Hickory Flat in what was once a rural little county. I remember when the main intersection was a four-way stop with a blinking red light. Seriously, it's true for you "transplants" out there reading this who thought that there was always a Publix shopping center and restaurants that served beer. If we needed groceries or had an insatiable urge for something to eat at a restaurant other than fried chicken and greasy vegetables then it was a 20-25 minute drive. My mom and I went to the same elementary school, and no we weren't students there at the same time. It's not that rural. Not only did we attend the same elementary school, Mr. Browning was the principal when we were both there. It's true, and no she wasn't a teen mother. I loved the afternoons when daddy would pick me up from school and take me by Hickory Flat Store so I could get a fountain drink and an after school snack. I don't know why but for some reason those fountain drinks were the best. I grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandparents. My kindergarten friends were my high school friends. Their families were like an extension of my own family. My "home church" is where I learned that I needed a Savior and it was there that I found him. Throughout my entire childhood I was deemed as the one who would never leave home. I even thought that until my sophomore year of college which I mentioned here briefly a few months ago. Perhaps it's a bit ironic that the one who everyone swore would never leave is probably never going to go back for more than a visit.
Time has certainly changed many things. I think that is only inevitable in this living life thing that we do every single day. A couple of weekends ago whenever I was at home, mom and I were talking about home and kind of what it means to me. I told her again [she's been know to forget things] that I have known since college that I would not end up living in Cherokee County. This doesn't mean I know where I'll finally land, but I do honestly believe that God was preparing my heart for my future when I was still in college. Perhaps He had to start so early because I was such a homebody throughout my entire childhood. Sure, I did stuff with my friends, but I absolutely loved being at home with my family. I was always the little girl who went home from slumber parties in the middle of the night because I missed my mama and daddy. In our conversation, it became evident that one of mama's main concerns was that I didn't plan to come back home because of some sort of negative association that I might have with my childhood or something. Well that certainly couldn't be farther from the truth.
In fact, I love that I had the childhood experiences in the kind of environment that I did because those things have shaped who I am at my core. There is such comfort and a sense of security that comes from be a part of a community. My family certainly benefited from this when daddy died. When I go back to Hickory Flat now, just by appearance it is a much different place than the home I grew up knowing. In a way it makes me a little bit sad, but then I stop in at Bruster's for an ice cream and decide that maybe growth isn't so bad after all. And I'm not referring to the kind of growth that results from too many trips to Bruster's. Besides, it isn't the stores or lack thereof that I think of first when I consider where I'm from. It's the people. It's the experiences. It's the memories.