I’ve heard the expression home is where the heart is a million times. It immediately conjures images of country craft décor like cross-stitched pillow or framed photo. I think of some place like Cracker Barrel selling this clichéd phrase on many of its pieces. While there is some truth to it, I like to think of Miss Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz. Her words ring more true with me, as there truly is no place like home.
At 18, I wanted nothing more than to get away from Greenville, S.C. Although I was only three hours away and still near quite a bit of family, I felt like I moved “away” when I enrolled at the University of Tennessee. The only one from my high school at UT, I was beyond thrilled to move away and make friends and start a new life. NEVER would I have thought I’d move back to Greenville, marry a guy from Greenville and go to my same church as a child.
But with age comes wisdom, or perhaps laziness, and I am definitely much older (not sure if any wiser) and I am back in Greenville. Well, right outside the city limits in Powdersville. But my point is that being back “home” is exactly where I want to be.
I spoke with an old friend this past weekend who had fallen on hard times and decided to move “home.” He quit his job, got divorced and is moving to Greenville. Although he hasn’t lived here in 12 years and really hasn’t even visited much, this is still his home. He realized after many years of shunning the city where he grew up, it was actually the one place he could always go back to. He is no longer ashamed and is leaving the big city life to come home to a quieter place.
But it is actually not that quiet here. In fact, I think he will be quite surprised to see what our city has become when he returns. Greenville is constantly on every nationwide list for up-and-coming cities, best places for young professionals, fastest growth, best manufacturing, top for outdoors, etc. I’m sure we’re not at the top of every list but I know we are on many of them. In fact, here is a fantastic video showcasing some of the amazing things in Greenville: http://www.greenvillehd.com/. We are three hours to the beach, 30 to the mountains, 1.5 hours to Charlotte, 2 hours to Atlanta, affordable real estate, decent-to-good job market, a home to a million art and food and wine festivals, amazing restaurants, beautiful parks and my new favorite, the Swamp Rabbit bike trail. It’s 26 miles of paved trails through the woods from one city to another.
Like my aforementioned friend, I once fell on hard times and lost my job and needed to move home. I was house-less but not home-less. My parents let me move in, gave me some strict rules ( I was 25) but let me live there rent-free until I got back on my feet. They provided meals and some guidance, albeit not what I always wanted to hear, and took me in. Not too much later I met a guy I would later marry and started my writing career.
I bought my first home, in Greenville. Met my husband, in Greenville. Got a dog, had a child, bought another home, all outside of, but still near—Greenville. My husband’s entire family lives in Greenville and with the exception of my sister, my immediate family is here too. My son will grow up getting to see ALL of his grandparents within a 20-minute drive. This excites me like no other because he will have an abundance of experiences with them that will provide a lifetime of memories.
I love being able to go to the same church where I grew up. I was confirmed there, married there, my son was baptized there and now my husband is a member as well. It too, is home. There are people still there who knew me when I was a baby and some who can’t believe my family has been members for that long. NEVER did I think my husband and I would join a church 25 minutes away. I thought for sure we would go somewhere near our house because just getting to church on a Sunday was hard enough. Adding 30 minutes to the drive was even more ludicrous. Yet when we kept going back and becoming more involved, I realized it was my church HOME. And S. felt the same way…he felt at HOME there too. So now, it is our home on Sundays and sometimes Saturdays, Wednesdays and as soon as basketball season starts, probably Thursdays too.
My ramblings today just reinforce what I already know: that it is good to be home. There’s no place I’d rather be, not even Tennessee. We may be rednecks in South Carolina but like the license plate says, nothing could be finer.