In 2001 I moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I immediately felt "at home." I loved it there and I could've lived there forever. It wasn't the people though. It was the landscape. Mother Nature gave me a home there. Parents came and went, friends too, but I could always find sanctuary in a clear mountain stream, a perfectly powdered snow run, a gorgeous meadow of columbines. Anywhere. All I had to do was go outside my own back door.
More than a decade later, my husband's career has brought me back down south. If I were completely honest with myself or others I would say I never, ever wanted to live in the south again. There are many reasons. I didn't hate it. The people were fine. Everything was "fine." It just was never home.
And then he moved me here. To my town. I didn't know what to think of it when we first saw it. It's tiny, that's for sure. Not a person on the planet would say it isn't. Everybody here is interwoven somehow. I still, two years later, get asked (or told), "You're not from around here, are you?" It's a real line and it's used regularly. And yet, it's never mean. I have never seen such a closeknit community be so open and loving to strangers. We were complete strangers in a strange land. I never want to leave.
I know we will. Plans are already formulating and it makes me sad. Moving used to fill me with excitement. A new adventure! New faces! New places! Let's go! Nowadays though, while I still feel some sense of excitement, I feel sad. I've come to feel like this is my town. My people. I love it as though I've lived here my whole life, just like most of the friends I've made have. I feel home.
I pondered that recently. What about this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere Georgia has gotten me so attached? And then I realized I look at this small, seemingly insignificant to the rest of the world town as a mirror of myself.
It's perfectly flawed. It has everything you may need and barely anything you want. It's intricately woven with the simplest materials. It's a perfect balance of beauty and ugliness. Nothing is perfect, right? It's extremely judgmental and yet, loves unconditionally. It's small in the world and has a huge heart. A take care of your own kind of place and yet anybody here applies to that.
If this town were a person, it would give you the shirt off its back before letting you suffer. That was proven in the news recently when it was shown supporting a local boy who was injured in a swimming accident. Don't mistake that as the only time this place reaches out though! There is never a time that this tiny town isn't helping one another in one way or another. Because it's home. And you can always, always come home.
Kaylee Smith lives in LaFayette.