It’s amazing to me that my husband is up for tenure this year at the small liberal arts college where he teaches. Not that I’m surprised he made it to this point–his whole academic career has been heading this direction since we married nearly ten years ago. No, what amazes me is that the tenure decision falls at the end of the sixth year of teaching.
The sixth year of teaching.
That means this is our sixth year in Kentucky. Who can believe it?
I like it here.
I like our small town, and our fixer-upper house, and our friends who’ve become aunties to my baby girl. I like that my husband can walk to work, that my neighbor and I have a standing walking date with our strollers on weekday mornings at 9 am. I like that people use “Derby Day” (the first Saturday in May) as a marker of time as often as they use “Mother’s Day.” I like that when we go to the grocery store we always see at least a half-dozen folks from church. Or the nurse from the doctor’s office. Or the cashier from the post office. I like that on rainy days like today when the temperature is predicted to drop, people kind of freak out about the potential snow.
But you know what?
I’m not from here. I’m working hard to plant our roots in this limestone-heavy soil of the bluegrass, but I sometimes wonder if it will ever feel like home.
I don’t particularly care about college basketball, for example, which automatically makes me an anomaly in this part of the country. Also, the word “barbecue” makes me think of sloppy joes, and I like my corn bread sweet, my eggs dippy, sauerkraut on New Years, fastnachts on Fat Tuesday, and my red beets pickled. Clearly, most of my sense of “home” revolves around food. I’ve written before about my love of regional delicacies like whoopie pies and corn cakes, and have even posted posts that compile a list of all my previous posts about food.
As blogger Lisa-Jo Baker wrote in a beautiful blog post today, "Home is where people feed you what you missed before you ask for it."
Lucky for me, our neighborhood Kroger now sells Turkey Hill ice cream and iced tea, so at least I can get some of that on a regular basis. (Turkey Hill is one of the brands I have missed over the years, especially because the ice cream shop I worked in through high school sold their ice cream, which was then considered a local novelty. I had the ingredients of each flavor memorized, even the seasonal ones, like Southern Lemon Pie. I am an awesome ice cream scooper, by the way.)
I’m a fan of food, and I miss central Pennsylvania food, some days, as much as I miss the people of central Pennsylvania.
Because home is all those things.
People. Food. Memories. Places. Love.
But it’s something else, too, something you can’t really put a label on. Because certainly I’ve got those things here in my own backyard of central Kentucky: People I love. (Hello, friends!) Food I love. (Hello, pimento cheese!) Memories I love. (Hello, firstborn child!) Places I love. (Hello, small-town Main Street, beautiful horse farms, amazing restaurants that serve food made with local ingredients!)
But I’m not from here.
And I feel that a lot. Maybe for me, since I do have a sense of being from a particular place, that’s all there is to it. Maybe for you, it’s something else.
As we head into the holidays and most folks spend time with family and loved ones, I’d love to know what you think about that place you call home, if you’re lucky enough to have one. I know that not everyone does, and I know that for some of you, the memories, the places, the food, and the people you associate with ‘home’ give you the opposite of warm and fuzzy feelings. Your thoughts are welcome in this community, too.
What makes home home for you?