I remember when my husband and I first started dating. He drove a greenish-blue pick-up truck. I had never drove a truck before and would ask him continually to let me drive his.
For about 90 percent of the time that we were out, I was driving. I couldn’t get enough of it. Well, a few weeks went by, and my husband’s friends starting approaching him. “Hey, why don’t you wave at us? We wave to you, you don’t wave to us.”
Oops, my bad. How was I supposed to know to wave to people? We don’t wave to people in Boston — maybe a quick blow of the horn, but that’s about it. We don’t have the time.
I guess the main reason we don’t is because it’s such a big place. You meet someone new every day. You can walk all around my hometown for a week and not run into a friend or acquaintance. I know, I do it every year!
But here in Walker County, you see someone you know just about everywhere you go. If they don’t know you, they know someone in your family. This amazes me, Walker County is such a big place, bigger than my hometown of Norwood, spitting distance from Boston.
And yet, everyone here knows everyone else. The area is full of families who have lived here for generations. Those that move away, come back. My grandparents were from here. As a matter of fact, the Gilreaths, my maiden name, owned a large amount of land out here.
Gradually, over the years their holdings dwindled away, but they still have a little, very little. So I guess, in a way, I also came home.
There’s just something about this place that you can’t stay away from. I don’t know if it’s the family atmosphere or good old Southern hospitality. I blame the majority of it on the Lord. It’s a very Christian and Godly place. And from what I’m learning in my newly-found walk with God, you can’t be Christian and antisocial. The two of them don’t blend.
I can’t, in a million years, think of a better place to be. I call Norwood my hometown, but it’s really not. My father served 13½ years in the Army, so we moved a lot. I’ve lived in so many places, but I had never been anywhere quite like this.
As long as I can help it, Kensington is most certainly my last stop. Here my kids are going to have something I never did. They’re going to have friends that they will grow up with and time with Ma-Maw and Pa-Paw. They’re going to have a place they can call home, and it really will be.
Most importantly, they’re going to grow up in a Christian atmosphere. They’ll have friends and family to help them through their mistakes as they grow — all things I did without, all things I swore I would give my kids.
Now I can, and it warms my heart to know that I can.
The world is running out of places like this, places where the corner stores are filled with the chatter of locals, places full of family and church gatherings full of comfort foods and fellowship.
Thank you, Walker County for keeping this small bit of America “American.” Thanking you for giving us a place we are proud to call home, a place that others look upon with envy.
And thank you, Lord, for leading me here.
My only wish is that in years to come, when my children are raising children, this wonderful place remains unchanged for them to do it in.
Tanya Nave, who lives in Kensington, is a wife, mother and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org