Yesterday was Jeremy’s first day of Kindergarten at his new school, St. Margaret Mary. It’s been my home church since I was 5, exactly his age. My family moved to FL when I was in Kindergarten and now he is going to grow up in the same environment that I did.

Growing up in FL has its perks. Besides being a beautiful place, with the lakes situated at nearly every corner, the people are laid back and the weather is decent all year long. No, we don’t’ get snow, but everyone takes trips up north to see it, and many escape the torrid heat in the summer months and go somewhere else.

Being at the first day of school was exciting. I ran into several women I went to high school with and was introduced to others who are now married to the siblings of my high school friends. It seemed that everyone was connected somehow, and it felt comfortable.

Since my father has played an active role at the church for the past several years as the Owners Rep which means he’s been building parts of the church, everyone knows him. Every single time I mention that I’m Walt’s daughter, people light up like a Christmas tree and tell me what a wonderful man he is and how competent he is and how valuable his Cell phone number is!!! Everyone adores my mom too. She’s the world’s best mom, after all! My parents have so many friends that it’s been remarkable to walk into a place and by having parents like I do; people just welcome me with open arms.

I’ve also been compared to this woman several times, Julie. Yesterday I was asked if I had met her yet. I laughed because I’ve been compared to her my whole life and explained that Julie B. was formally Julie Gardner, my cousin! Julie has two boys at the school already and is well known and loved as well. I have no problem being compared to her since she’s beautiful, poised and a super great gal.

What I didn’t expect was the feeling that I’d get from returning home. I knew that I’d know people, which to me is a huge benefit, but I had no idea the warmth that I’d find. I had no idea that people loved living in their hometown so much. Sure, I’ve heard Bruce Springstein’s song, but I never thought it applied to me. I have felt somewhat displaced all of these years, even though I was able to accumulate dozens of friends in every city in which I lived. These friends became like family to me but I never had the extended associations that you get from growing up in one place.

Every person desires to have connections and to feel loved and accepted for who they are. I’m no different. I’ve lived in many places over the past 20 years and developed strong friendships that will remain a lifetime. I have friends from college in Alabama, friends from camp in South Carolina, friends from the Washington DC area, NJ, NYC and those that have moved to LA, CT, CO, PA and of course, Winter Park, FL. But besides a few friends who I keep in regular contact with, I never really ran into people who knew me, and had to reestablish myself every single time that I moved.

I had to move away for myself though, to discover who I was, and to see who I was in the world. I accomplished a lot, thank God, but I am just so thrilled to be able to come home and to have friends, to be accepted and to be loved just because of my family. These are the exact reasons I left, and now they’re the reasons I came home.

And I’ve decided that home is best for me and my family.

And it’s true, that there is NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

Comments from friends:

Hi M,
I am up at 12:40am reading your blog and I love it!!!!! It gave me so much inspiration and COMFORT!!!! People should read your blog before going to bed every night. They would have bigger better dreams of what they want and permission to pursue them.