Friday, April 20, 2012

I Grew up in a Small Town

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from, I cannot forget the people who love me.
- John Mellencamp

The circumstances of my life of late have landed me in a place where I am often seeking out peace and comfort.  Oftentimes, I find them nearby; A favorite T.V. show with my husband on the couch, a manicure with my daughter, a trip to our favorite ice cream shop with my little guy.  Then there are the calls and emails with loved ones, who forever make time to listen and offer encouragement, and I am truly blessed to work in a place where I am surrounded by happy, smiling faces all day long.  This week, with a little extra time on my hands, I sought out comfort in a different way, totally on a whim, and I am so happy I followed my instincts.  I went home to the town I grew up in, and it made my heart smile.

I was raised in a small town, and there were small town spots that stand out in my mind as meaningful and memorable when I think back to my youth.  With my patient kids in tow and camera in hand, we hit a bunch of those spots.  The first school I attended when we moved in, my middle and high schools.  We stopped at the little ice cream place I would walk to on half-days, and the little blue store I would walk to with my best friend when we were at her house.  There were two places, both near and dear to my heart, that deserve mention.  I'm just going to talk about one today, and save the other.  They each deserve their own special day.

Their House

I had the best friend in the world growing up, and though we live thousands of miles away and are in sparse contact now, I cherish that friendship as if it were gold.  Driving through town, I was not even sure I would remember how to get to her parents' house, but nostalgia brought me there.  I pulled up in front, not 100% they still lived there. I sat for a bit, trying to muster up the courage to take a chance and knock.  Then, from around the corner came a man walking a big, beautiful golden retriever.  It was my friend's father, and I was frozen for a moment.  He looked exactly the same as the last time I had seen him.  He recognized me right away, enveloped me in a familiar, fatherly hug, and invited us in to visit with them.  Seeing her mother was even more emotional for me, and I had to muster up self control to keep from crying.  I practically grew up in this house;  These were like second parents to me, and it felt so warm and welcoming to be in that living room again, chatting as if it had not been over 13 years since I had last been there.  I hope the card I sent conveys how much it meant to see them.  I'm a planner, and not at all one to just pop-in, but I am grateful I did, and I am sure I will do so again. 

Things may be a messy right now, but in the words of Katy Perry:

This is a part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me.


  1. Kelly -
    In this post, I can feel the relationship you had with this family - especially with your friend's parents. What a way to go home!

    I have moved around so many times in my life, that I don't have a place I grew up in. When people ask me, I say: "Well, I was born in Canada and I have lived in many states east of the Mississippi River." I enjoyed the travelling to and living in different places. But my mom says I used to have stomach problems from the stress. So, there are good things and not so good things about growing up in the same place. I don't have the memories you do.

    Thank you so much for sharing this touching story -

    1. Thank you, Monique. It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to have had such a wonderful childhood full of memories. These are truly special people, and I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone enough to stop by.

  2. Oh Kel. I am sitting here in a room full of in-laws with tears literally running down my face. My parents will be talking about how "swell Kel" popped over for a surprise visit for the next month (or three), at least. They love you know as they loved you then. I am so lucky to call you my oldest friend. Thank you.

    1. I am so 100% not a spontaneous person, but this was one of the most uplifting moments of my last few months.

  3. I felt myself almost tearing up as well. I have the same type of friend, and we rarely see each other anymore, but when we do get together it's like we were never apart! The same goes for her family, I hadn't seen her brother in ages because he was in the military and sent overseas for a long time (too long) but at my friends wedding, it was like heaven seeing his smiling face walking down the aisle behind her :)