This week’s guest post is from my friend and neighbor Ashley, who is also a transplant to the middle of America. A mother of a nine-month-old, she makes a mean dessert, as anyone who joins us for monthly potlucks knows. Last night, we shared a dose of community together by eating waffles, ice cream sundaes, and king cake in honor of Fat Tuesday. Today, the first day of Lent, Ashley reflects on settling in to life in Kentucky, feeling at “home,” and why it’s hard to do all by yourself.
“Home is where the heart is happy” is printed on a little plaque that my mother-in-law has sitting in front of her sink. Every time I see it, it makes me smile because it’s so true. I’ve never had a hometown and when people ask me where I’m from it always takes me a minute to answer. I’m torn about giving the person way more than they asked for and completely explaining where indeed I am from, because like many people these days, my family moved around some when I was growing up. My moving doesn’t hold a candle to some military families but I have long felt that the communities that I have been a part of have shaped me into the person I am today.
Most recently, however, I am from Kentucky. It has taken me about a year and a half to say that and not cringe, but I truly feel that Kentucky is now my home. When my husband and I were dating and were engaged I thought, “No problem; it doesn’t matter where we choose to live. We’ll move there and be married and I’ll immediately have a perfect life…” Now, why I thought this after having moved several times before, I’m not quite sure, but there you have it.
We finally chose Kentucky because (1) we thought it would be an adventure, (2) Drew co-oped here during college and absolutely loved it, and (3) because most of the country was in a recession and he’d been offered a job.
I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find a community to be a part of at this point in our lives. Without school or a job to start off with, many of my days were spent unpacking boxes, painting rooms, and walking the dog. When Drew came home I was starving for human interaction. I knew that I needed to make some friends and find a community in which we could belong, but I had a tough time getting started. It was just too easy to sit at home and be miserable, do solitary projects like reading or sewing, work on a class, or walk outside and just wait for Drew to come home. The great push for me to get out there and create a community for my family was when my son was born this past June.
It was easy enough for me to sit at home and have no one to talk to, but I knew that would have to change for him. I came across a great social networking site where people form groups based on common interests and organize times to meet within the community, and I found a stroller walking group! I have been so blessed to have found a group where I can relate to the people I have met–it has definitely made me feel more at home here in Kentucky and made me feel like I’m a contributing part of my community. Sure, it’s a part of my life that has been overlooked at times, but I think that it’s made me more appreciative of what I have found.
After all, home is where the heart is happy.