Just over a month ago I moved home. Back to the hometown I left at 18 years old to pursue my dreams and see where life would take me.
The same hometown I couldn’t wait to get away from in 1983, when I went away to college.
The hometown I left for bigger and brighter adventures, the hometown I never looked back on as I made my way through my career and life’s triumphs.
The hometown I have needed at every point in my life. The hometown that I have now chosen to return to, looking for the best days of my life.
For the last three or four years I have been thinking about moving back. I wasn’t sure how I would make it happen or if indeed I really wanted to, but the dream was there.
One of the problems with moving back is career. Unfortunately, the job opportunities in my hometown are what has led generation after generation to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
I created a wonderful career in other parts of the country and would have great difficulty finding the same opportunities in my hometown. Fortunately for me, a promotion and new opportunities allow me to travel part of each month with work, making the possibility of home base anywhere.
Once I spoke with my bosses about relocation and go the approval, my dream quickly became a reality and my return to God’s Country was solidified.
On the surface my hometown has changed a lot since I last lived here. Trendy restaurants, galleries and antiques shops line Main Street, while small boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts and southern charm dot the landscape.
With these changes, some of the fears of a gay guy from small-town America have also sub-sided.
When I left God’s Country, I fled to the big city, in search of a community that had the same life’s adventures I lived. I found those similarities, but never fully found the small town compassion and care I had grown up with.
God’s Country offers a sense of community that I longed for; a community that takes care of your neighbor, holds family and faith as a cornerstone and honors history while looking towards a brighter future.
On the first day of my 51st year, I moved back to my hometown, into a small home that I now see as my little piece of God’s Country.
The move has been wonderful. I have been able to share times with family that I have always missed. Our weekly, Sunday Supper has quickly become a highlight of my week and watching my great-niece grow has been a complete joy!
I have reconnected with old friends and made new ones. My community has welcomed me back and I am grateful.
While everything hasn’t been perfect, it has been pretty awesome. I move back with eyes wide-open, I know there will be challenges, heartaches and sacrifices, but I believe the benefits will outweigh the difficulties.
Just after moving back, a former teacher asked the question I knew someone would, but wasn’t really prepared for. “Why did you wait until your dad died to move home?” Inappropriate at best, the question took me off-guard and the truth that “I didn’t have the opportunity until after he was gone,” didn’t seem to satisfy her.
Small town pleasures are great, having to drive 50 something miles into another State for Target isn’t.
I haven’t found a Church yet, but thanks to the internet, I am worshiping online.
Publix has been replaced by Ingles and Wal-Mart is now part of my regular routine.
I look forward to the weekly newspaper with updates on high school sports, wedding announcements and articles celebrating the history of our community.
Over the last month, I have reprogrammed my life back to a slower, more gentle existence. I am happy to have been able to weave myself back into this community.
Thomas Wolfe once said, “you can’t go home again,” I hope he was wrong as I am about to find out.
I’ve come home and I look forward to many years of dreams ahead.