Home is where one starts from.T.S. Eliot
Today, I am back to the place that I think of as my hometown. I was not born here (I’m a ‘Bama girl), nor did I take my first steps, speak my first words, or learn to ride a bike in this small New England town. Until I was 8 years old, I lived in Alabama, Florida, and the Netherlands. But it is the place where my childhood was spent after my parents split, the place where I made friends that I still keep in touch with today, the place where I went through my awkward preteen and teenage phases, the place where I dreamed what my future “grown up” life would look like, and the place where I spent 10 years gaining an educational foundation to prepare me for the world beyond. It’s the place where teachers set rigorous standards, instilled a love of learning, and opened the doors to knowledge that stimulated my curiosity, and pushed me to heights of excellence which served to springboard me to where I am in my career. It’s where I had my first crush, my first date, my first kiss, and my first heartbreak. It’s the place where I gained my first seeds of grown up confidence, explored my intellectual interests and hobbies, learned what friendship and loyalty meant, and as this was the town my mother grew up in after she immigrated to America at the age of 5, the importance of family. After living a somewhat nomadic life of an Air force brat, it was nice to have roots with people that my mother shared a past with to lend stability. When I think of the values on which I built the foundation of my life, this is the place where it all happened, and the people with whom I interacted in this small town played integral parts in my becoming the person I am today.
Since graduating college with my doctorate, I have moved to upstate NY, to Michigan, and now I am in Florida once again, where I spent my toddler years on the Gulf of Mexico and where I plan to live my twilight years. My life has come full circle. This weekend, I am lucky to catch up with some of the friends whom I bonded with during childhood in real life, not just on social media. I admire the people they have become and feel blessed to have them in my life, as there is no substitute for someone who has known you from second, seventh, or ninth grade, to our almost fifth decade on this earth. I think of them as the keeper of the keys, the ones who know the true me. The ones who knew my childhood crushes, the ones I gossiped with, the ones I skipped classes with to go to Friendlys for lunch, the ones who saw my bad 80s hair (thank God the internet wasn’t invented yet), the ones whom I spent weekend nights at the drive in or at Dennys (the only place open late night), and the ones in my afterschool clubs who shared my passion for the stars, mathematics, world affairs, debate, and peer advocacy, among other activities. The ones I shared my deepest wishes and biggest dreams of the future. My path has taken me to places far away, but I will always carry my hometown in me. My years here shaped who I have become, and for that, no matter where I land, I will always be a New England girl: a little snippy (don’t tell me to have a good day..), a little snobby (the accent, dahling), wicked smaht, always curious, a bit coffee addicted, fast talking and walking, with little patience for idiots, an aggressive driver, a lot stoic, and an all around passionate bad ass, with a heart of gold.