It all started four years ago. My entire world flipped upside down in the blink of an eye in June of 2010. This was the end of one book and the beginning of another as I trekked six hours south. I was excited to leave Montgomery, Alabama, but more nervous for what lied ahead in Jacksonville, Florida. But this is not about me moving, this is about travelling back, three years later, in June, 2013.
When I moved, I promised my friends that I would come back to visit all the time and stay close. The fact of the matter is that a twelve hour drive there and back just to have lunch does not sound too appealing. So, three years later I traveled back for the first time. My friends and I stayed in contact through social media, but the times we talked dwindled as time moved on. My family owned a house in Alabama, so the reason for travelling back was to renovate it for higher selling. But of course, I tagged along so that I could spend the days with my friends catching up, especially my old best friend, Mikala. All packed up, ready to go, and off we went!
Many hours and delays later, we pull up to the hotel we would be staying at for the week. We were not about to stay in a house that has had renters in it, and for a while, no electricity or air conditioning. I was so excited! I wanted to see my hometown, soak up the feeling of home, see my house, my friends, and everything that made me happy growing up. When we drove around that night, everything seemed the same. The church, the restaurants, and the mall were all as I remembered, but I would not see my old home until the next day. I made sure to go to bed early so I could wake up even earlier to see it. All I could think about was the thirteen years of memories in that house playing with my siblings, eating dinner, the ugly wallpaper in the kitchen that I never learned to love, the L-shaped hallway, and where the Christmas tree went every year.
It was 8 am and we departed for Home Sweet Home. The whole ten minutes it took to get there were excruciating. Mikala was meeting me at my house so I could get every ounce of happiness I wanted all at once. But when I arrived, all my emotions changed. I was my house and I saw her and everything was so… different. As Mikala spoke she just was not who I remembered. Of course I missed her, but the happiness I thought I would get was not there, and I just felt awkward. As I stepped though my house, I was overwhelmed with disappointment. There was trash everywhere, a broken window, blotchy carpet, a burnt kitchen, and not what I was expecting to come home to. That’s when I realized that 1405 Dunbarton Road was not my home anymore.
Home is not where one has lived the longest, knows the most people, or has the most memories. Home is where one is happy, comfortable, and has the happiest memories of them all. Home is with family, friends, and the ones that make every day worth living to the fullest. Montgomery, Alabama, may have been my home at one time, but now, Jacksonville, Florida, is my home and I am proud to be a Floridian.
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