There’s no denying it: I’m a homebody. In high school, my friends would say, “I can’t wait to get out of here!” or “I’m leaving and never coming back to this town!” and I just couldn’t identify with that.
Of course, I had the urge to spread my wings and be independent, but I loved my little corner of Central Pennsylvania!
College took me away for a few years, and I found myself in an entirely new community, but that’s a post for another day. Even when I got a teaching job near my college and about 45 minutes away from my hometown, I still moved back. The long commute gave me a chance to savor my coffee in the morning and chat with relatives on the drive home. (On a hands-free cell phone, of course!)
The point is this: I was comfortable in my familiar surroundings. My job and other aspects of my life forced me out of my comfort zone, but living in an area with which I was acquainted gave me such a sense of peace and belonging.
I grew up in a stereotypical small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business. My summers were spent swimming in the community pool and consuming atrocious amounts of Swedish fish with my friends during the adult swim. I suffered through a few seasons of softball, but made some pretty great memories with my teammates on the bench. (I use the term “suffered” because I never played organized sports until I was about twelve, and let me tell you, coordination doesn’t just magically appear during the teenage years! As if that stage wasn’t awkward enough….but I digress.)
One of my first jobs was at a local restaurant and ice cream shop. I started out as an ice cream scooper (how glamorous!), but soon learned the fine art of waitressing and was practically running the place when I left.
The best part about this restaurant was that it was the type of place that attracted “regulars”. I got to serve the same folks on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis and developed wonderful relationships with some of them over the three years that I worked there. Two of my favorites were a father and son who came in every Wednesday for ice cream. The son had developmental disabilities and having a routine was very important to him. They were so friendly and I looked forward to Wednesdays because they were such a blessing to me! Would you believe, more than ten years later, I ran into them at our local grocery store? I was able to tell them that I still had the talking picture frame they gave me when I left to finish college and got to introduce them to my daughter. My heart was filled with such joy that day! How I love my little community!
Obviously, not everyone can stay in the same place forever. People constantly have to uproot their lives and make their way in a new community because of jobs or family. Fortunately for me, that has not been the case. I am one blessed lady to be able to start my own family in a place that I feel so connected to!