“There’s No Place Like Home”
This past week, I traveled to Florida for my high school reunion. “Is that where you’re from?” one of my Ohio friends asked.
“Yep, I lived in a small town just north of Tampa."
Actually, I was born in Ohio and I’ve spent most of my life in Ohio. So why do I say I’m from Florida? I suppose it’s because those major events of life…those transitions an anthropologist would call “rites of passage” that catapult us from being a child to being an adult, took place in Florida.
· I graduated from both high school and college in Florida
· I got my drivers license and first car in Florida
· I cast my first vote in Florida
· I started dating in Florida
· I was married in Florida
· My first two children were born in Florida
· My husband and I retired to Florida…to the house where he grew up
Quite simply, I have always considered myself “a Florida girl.”
Tom and I moved to Ohio in 1978. The plan was to live here for a year or so while he completed his master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati. We had two daughters when we moved into our temporary home. The next year I landed a teaching job at the elementary school of my choice. Though we still had our house in Florida, we bought a house in a friendly neighborhood in Fairfield, Ohio. Tom finished his master’s and started his doctoral program. Our third daughter was born in Ohio.
We built a life in southwestern Ohio. We had jobs we liked, a church family we loved, and my extended family nearby. Yet when people asked, we would refer to ourselves as being from Florida.
If someone noticed our license plate when we were traveling they would say, “Oh, you’re from Ohio! I have a cousin there…” or something to that effect. We would respond with, “We live in Ohio now, but we’re from Florida.”
We said that for years after our move from Florida. Even after we made the decision to sell our Florida home in the late eighty’s. Our identity was that place where we became adults.
This weekend I’ll gather with old friends from Chamberlain High School. We’ll share stories and remember strange details about our years together. We’ll laugh at our former selves. We’ll lie and tell each other things like, “You haven’t changed a bit!” We’ll share pictures of our children and grandchildren. And then we’ll all go home.
Me? I may be from Florida, but I finally realize my heart and home is in Ohio.
Where are you from? And where to you call home?