Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Driving and thinking, thinking and driving


Once upon a time I thought I would be a person who moves away from where they grew up. After college I planned to move to Boston where my college roommate was heading. I realized over the next six months that in my heart, that's not what I truly wanted or needed. But I was afraid to say it out loud. I equated not going with failing. I still remember telling Laura, Kim, and Kim that I had changed my mind while sitting on the beach in Ocean City. It felt like a huge weight was lifted, but for a while I was scared that I made the wrong decision or that I was stuck. Oh, early 20s. I don't miss your self doubt and resistance to following gut feelings.

When I look back over the last 17 years since college graduation, I know I made the right decision for me. Aside from being an hour away in Delaware for college, I've never lived more than 20 minutes from the town in which I grew up. I've traveled to many places within and outside of the United States, and this is where I always return. It's where my roots are. It's in my bones.

Saturday, on a drive, I passed:
-The corner where I sat watching the Lower Southampton July 4th Parade every year from childhood to my early 20s
-The Lower South fields where Gamma used to stock the stand and I entered my lifelong relationship with Swedish Fish
-The relocated library...Gamma took me to the original every week
-Kim's street, turning the opposite way just like I would have to go home to my house from there in high school
-Hanging a left on Arbutus and remembering a driver playing chicken with me on the way to Volleyball practice with Jenny, George, and Brian in the car
-Sailing down Old Lincoln Highway towards the high school like I've done so many times...speeding to make it before the first bell, going to gym night practice, to a football game on Friday night, to see both of my brothers graduate

It was like living the lyrics of My Hometown by The Boss...except that nothing was rundown, just different from it was when I was younger. Different but still the same.

I don't meander down back roads much anymore. But on days like Saturday it's like driving on memory, taking routes I couldn't direct you down but can drive myself like I'm on autopilot. I can practically see and feel previous versions of myself in front of me and sometimes feel like I'm existing in two separate times. I love that. 


What about you? Stayed in your home town or moved away?

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37 comments:

  1. I moved pretty far from where I grew up, but Boston feels like home and has since I was little visiting my sister so I don't see myself leaving here ever...but when I do go back to Florida and my dad gives me the car to drive...I always take it back down the roads I used to know like the back of my hand! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  2. We currently live 3 hours from our hometown. I'd like to be within an hour drive. My career may dictate differently though. We shall see. As I edge closer to 30 I've noticed my desire to be closer to family has increased. I have also noted some of my self-doubt has finally taken a back seat and I'm not afraid of who I am anymore. More importantly, I think I finally know who I am and what I like and don't like, believe and don't believe. Rather freeing. AND I am willing to stand up for myself these days. Thank goodness. 😁

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  3. I know I am your mother, but your blog is the best! An awesome and nice read. If I could take my whole world with me I would move to the Gulf Coast of Florida. But I can't. Even though I don't see you in person a lot, you are right here. Continued Goddess speed to my first born chicken. Love. Your. Momma.

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  4. I moved away for college but I knew I would always come back. Family is so important to me and I knew I didn't want to miss the important moments. I always dream of moving away to someplace warm year round but I know I won't because this is home to me.

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  5. I moved away but I didn't really grow up in one town. My mom moved us to NC when we were 11 and 10, going back to the frigid winters of MI was never appealing but staying in small town NC wasn't either. The 4ish hours I live away from the small NC town I grew up in is the furthest I've ever moved though.

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  6. In my hometown, you just don't move away. Both of my brothers and I ended up leaving (though one is still in PA) and I never thought that would happen.
    I don't think those in their early 20s realize just how much possibility is actually out there.
    Reminds of the saying "Youth is wasted on the youth".

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  7. I love this post! I don't live in my same hometown, but I live in the same area (I grew up in Maryland and now live in Virginia...about 30 minutes away). I like being close enough to go back to my hometown, but having started my own life "across the bridge" has been good too. I see the positives of both!

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  8. I really loved this. While I don't live in Tennessee anymore when I go back to visit it's nice to be in a familiar place with so many memories. I can drive down any of the roads and it takes me back to a certain time in my life...some much more significant than the other.

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  10. Prior to reading this post I was researching living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Not that we have any plans of moving but I love the thought of it. I grew up in CT and moved to Philly in my late 20's with my boyfriend and I was READY to leave. He was being promoted and relocated and before he could finish the sentence about moving to Philly I said yes. I had the bug in me for a while and couldn't wait to experience living in a new area. I definitely felt that in my gut!

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  11. I am closer than I ever figured I'd be. Iowa was as far as my parents would let me get for college (4 hours. And they gave me the most $.) And I always assumed I'd go further, but I really do like the midwest. There's something to be said for going away - I specifically picked a college that I knew no one going to. I had to make all new friends and not rely on my parents doing everything for me, so it made me an extrovert and a grown up. I know for sure that wouldn't have happened if I went to school in state. I love having my hometown to come back to, since it rarely changes it feels familiar. I think I'd still like to be further away though. The house John and I picked is ohhhh 7 minutes, driving, from the house I grew up in, where my parents still live. I'd love to move to Kentucky but John's job requires a Chicago address. Whomp. Maybe when we retire!

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  12. I moved across the country from my hometown but when I go back it's like a time warp. It's such an odd feeling to me like this place still exists exactly the way I left it!

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  13. We moved when I was 17. I still live within a couple of hours of my hometown, but I love where I live now. It's home. Huntsville is an oasis.

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  14. As you know, I live nowhere near where I grew up. That place never felt right to me and even though Delaware is not where I imagined I'd stay after college, it feels more like home than Long Island ever did.

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  15. I assumed when I went to college that I would move to NYC like all my friends were doing, but my first job offer was in the sticks in PA and I hated it. And then I realized I didn't really want to live in the city. While I don't live in my hometown, I'm only about 20 min away and since dating Blue (who lives even closer to my hometown), I've been around it more without bumping into the people I hated in high school in the grocery store. Pretty sure I won't be moving from NJ though. It's home.

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  16. I wanted to be a pharmacist in high school... & the only college that offered classes was 2 hours away. I couldnt move from my parents. I just couldnt do it. Now that I'm older, I think 2 hours is nothing - but as a 18 yr old, it felt like an eternity away. I can only imagine how different life would have been if I went.

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  17. I was born and raised in Dallas and even went to college there. Moving away has been extremely hard on me. In ways I didn't think I could explain. But I know i'll move back. I can't NOT.

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  18. This is exactly why buying my grandpa's house last year meant so much to me. Growing up, we moved all the time, I lived in 13 different towns/houses so finally landing in the one house that was the only constant thing in my childhood has been so amazing. I finally feel at home and from you what you've described, I can tell you love that feeling too!

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  19. I live 3 hours from home but I go back once a month and it's so comforting and yet disorienting. Things are different. It's not the same. It's not "home" anymore.

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  20. I live about an hour from my hometown, and currently live in Jared's home town! A couple friends of mine still live where I grew up, so I enjoy the leisurely drive out of the city and into the country and cornfields of my teenage days :)

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  21. I don't live in the same part of the city that I grew up in, but my parents still live in the same house that I grew up in. Every time we visit and drive around, I can still remember certain things that happened or times during my life when we drive by landmarks. It's a very surreal and cool feeling.

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  22. This is a fun post!! I live on the other side of the country from my hometown (aka home city?) and my parents have since moved to this side of the country too, so it feels like this is the new home (and it is - I've been here for over 10 years)...I think it's awesome that you still have all of those feelings of home nearby.

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  23. I think everyone goes through that phase where all the want to do is get as far away from home as they can, because they think it's the right thing to do to show you're truly "grown" up, but after moving back to my home town its as like I had such an appreciation for it and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. So many memories.

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  24. I grew up in a small town of 12,000 in rural MN and we were the "big" city in the area. I always knew that I would leave, even though most of my family is there. I moved to a slightly larger city before landing in Minneapolis for a few years. When the opportunity came to relocate for work to LA, I had to take it. I love coming home and driving the familiar streets, seeing the changes and the general peacefulness, but it's not somewhere I could live full-time again, even though I miss seeing my family as often. My family has always felt like home, but my hometown never felt like home, if that makes a lick of sense.

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  25. I feel this way when I go back to visit home...it's very sentimental with so many memories which I don't share in my new home but I've been creating them over the years. It's nice to reminisce.

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  26. I have lived in Philly, Levittown, Philly again, Bensalem, Hulmeville, Valdosta Georgia, Mexico Beach Florida, Lynn Haven Florida, Panama City Florida, Levittown again, Southampton, Wichita Kansas, Levittown AGAIN, Yardley, Levittown again, and Monroe Township.
    So, other than Georgia, Florida, and Kansas, I have mostly been withing about 25 miles of where I originated.

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  27. One of my favorite things when I go home to Greensburg to do is drive around our old area where we used to live. SO much has changed and yet so much is still the same and so familiar. It makes me sad sometimes that I only get to see that place every 5 or so years. I really need to visit more often. I too have memories of my hometown and Swedish Fish and now I just really want some!!!!

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  28. This is so close to my heart as moving away from my hometown was paramount for me over the last about 7 years. I just had to do it for myself and knew that for the sake of my own journey and heart, it was necessary. When it finally happened and as the last 8 months have unfolded, I'm very happy I took the step. With that said, that was what I wanted for myself and it sounds like for you, being close to home was what you wanted. We each have our own desires and journeys and me feeling like staying in Portland was failing myself, does not mean that people who do stay in hometowns feel that same way. Many of my friends have needed to live out of the country and so they've made it happen. I have never had that desire. We're all different. And hey, there's a lot to be said about driving past things that were the fabric of your youth.

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  29. Love this post! I moved away from my hometown and home state 6 years ago, as I knew I'd never be truly happy there. And as much as I love where I live now, whenever I do go back to visit I love the familiarity and the nostalgia of driving down back roads and really knowing the area. The comforts of home <3

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  30. I always knew I'd move away from where I was born. I thought I might live a county or two away from where I was raised in Ohio, but ended up in Georgia. We've been here 31 years, and plan to retire in the GA, TN, or NC mountains. With that being said, I call Ohio home lol. When we are back to visit, I nearly always make time to go through some of the small towns where I lived, and down the back roads. There have been many changes over the years, some that are hard to see. At this point, I doubt I'll ever live there again, which feels bittersweet at times. I do like to travel and see new places, and think I will be content wherever I end up living.

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  31. yeah i'm not crying or anything.

    i love this. i never thought i'd move away from my hometown.. though to be fair, i was born in one place where all my family lives, and then my mum moved us away when i was like 3, but we always went back to the other place for visits, so i feel like i have 2 hometowns.. and now where i live, it feels like a hometown as well. it's weird. when i went back to Aus in 2014 i loved driving around and seeing the most random things that reminded me of my childhood.. i think it made me appreciate it more (than i would have otherwise, not more than you lol). i love your last paragraph though, that's exactly how i felt. like previous me was still existing.

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  32. I have lived 17 hours, 30 hours, and now 3 hours from my hometown. It's really small, and I felt like I couldn't breathe without someone looking at me or having an opinion...I needed to leave. But I am glad to have moved back to my home state and have the opportunity to visit.

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  33. I know exactly what you mean about previous me and now me crossing paths. It makes me wonder about future me. I also get it sometimes when I go somewhere that has been special to one of my ancestors. Kind of like a falling leaves thing. I love the circular nature of life, just when you think you have it figured out it loops back around on you again.

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  34. I love this! When I went to college (three whole hours away) I really didn't think I was going to come back. I had dreams of NYC or Boston or settling in downtown Seattle. But then Jacob (who never left our hometown) and I decided to date and he just got an amazing job (the same one he has now) so I moved in with him after graduation. Now we live in the town next to our hometown with my sister and both of our parents within a half mile of each other over there. As much as I wanted to get away, I love it here and it's a really great place for kids.

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