To My Hometown,
They say you can’t go home again and for that I am thankful. When I was younger, trapped underneath your burden, I felt like Mars wouldn’t be far enough away from you. But after all of this time without you, as I’ve gotten older with more responsibilities and the weight of the world on my shoulders, I have realized a few things.
I had spent so much time detesting you and the person you created in me that I never stopped to thank you. It took me leaving to realize that I took your safety and familiarity for granted. I didn’t have to be worried or constantly aware of my surroundings because I knew every freckle of you. From Taylor to Cowarts and from Pinkard to Headland, I became so used to every pothole, bump, and curve on your main roads. I am now a stranger in a strange land, grasping for anything that feels like that same warm familiarity of home.
I have hated you, but, in some ways, I have truly loved you. You are where my family is and where my friends reside. I was given an adolescence surrounded by a rooted family who was able to see your magic and stay. You hold my dearest memories and my rocky past. Like the peanuts you are famous for, you grew me from the ground up. You made me hard to break, like your red dirt clay. Helping shape me into the person I have become, I am who I am because of your steady hand.
In keeping tabs on you through a Facebook newsfeed and phone calls home, sometimes I find myself missing you, as much as I hate to admit it. You taught me how to make my own fun and how to tolerate my time spent with you. You gave me places I could call mine. The coffee shop on West Main always started on my order before I could make it to the front door; the Wiregrass Museum of Art was nothing but a quiet place to think; the used bookstore on South Oates was where I found my written voice.
I am forever grateful to you for giving me a home and a reason to dream bigger than your city limits would allow. You helped me discover my wingspan. For eighteen years, you were the bane of my existence, but you gave me a home and good times with good people. You have made me me. You will always be the Point A that led me to Point B. And whenever I look back at you in my rearview mirror, I’ll smile and thank you again.
The One Who Got Away