Raise your hand if you were born and bred in a small town. Yep, there we are. While open to interpretation, it’s the type of town where you know most of the folks or better yet, most of them know YOU – and your parents and your sibling(s). For many of us, it’s the type of town that you cannot wait to leave. In those ripe teenage years, you know there are bigger places and different people than what you have known all your life. You are ready to move away… far, far away. And if you are lucky, you have parents that agree and wish you well on your ventures. At that point, we all probably swear to never, ever move back. Ever.
So, off we go to college, graduate school, maybe try living in the big city, hop to a new state – or, maybe 3 new states. We land in places where we know no one. And the ability to chat it up from knowing everyone suddenly helps us meet new people in our new town. We establish new connections based on old activities – or through new variations of those activities (ex: bridge in the South = bunko in the Midwest). Our learned habits and traditions are expressed and shared – and we pick up variations. Chili and cornbread are awesomely southern – and if you replace that cornbread with cinnamon rolls, you probably hail from the flatlands portion of the US.
New weather patterns are endured, clothing items you never thought you would own suddenly fill your drawers and closet. What Georgia girl owns anything made out of wool?? Me, now, down to my socks. Horizons are expanded, habits are appreciated and enforced (still not doing white after Labor Day), new ones are garnered and pondered (jeans in church? for a wedding? and the roof did not cave?) Honestly, it is amazing, fun and very educational to live elsewhere as a southerner.
And then, the time comes to make a decision. Where do we move? Options considered, lists made. School systems and activities were two big ticket items along with the obvious job options. Weeks of discussions, online searches, and more lists, followed by indecision. It was during this pondering time that the three of us came back to Georgia for a visit. And that innocuous, unplanned, post-Christmas trip became the game changer.
Two weeks later, Big Man looked at me and simply said, “We need to move to Carrollton. It’s perfect for a family, there is good work, the school systems are strong, the city is thriving. Atlanta is near enough to visit, but far enough away that there is no traffic. You deserve to be close to your parents, and I want Little Man to grow up near them, too.” Stunned is not a strong enough word for that moment. And that was it. Decision made. We were moving home – rather, I was moving home, and they were happily coming with me. House hunting, packing, a cross country journey.
Now, we are two years into this chapter. It has been great for Little Man. For the adults? Our only complaint is the humidity. There is much that has become energized and changed about my home town, and there is much that is still the same. Two plus decades gone and people still recognize me in the grocery store or the gym (thank goodness, I think?)
And those parents who were willing (and also ready) for me to get out and see the world? They are thrilled that I walk through the front door of my childhood home regularly and that I bring along two great fellas. Frankly, they never thought they would see the day that I would take up residence here again. Heck, I was never certain myself. But, I am ever grateful for the times we have together now, humidity and all. So, yes, it’s ok. You can move back home. And, maybe you should.