Monday, July 22, 2013

Why I Can't Go Home

I hate my “home town.” I know hate is a strong word. I wish it weren’t true. But it is. There’s so much pain associated with that place that I avoid visiting at all costs. I can’t even decide what to put in that blank on my Facebook profile.

When I was 10 my family moved from a fairly large South Florida city to a town of 3000 in Central Florida. Let me be the first to say that 10 is more than old enough to feel the culture shock of a move like that. I encountered racism, intolerance, cliques and a unique brand of superficiality. The kind that involves sitting next to you for over an hour in church and ignoring you 10 minutes later in the grocery store. The kind that waves at you on the street corner and talks about you behind your back (but within earshot) on the playground.

It didn’t help that I found interracial dating acceptable in the mid nineties and that I was an early bloomer. It is particularly cruel when kids punish you with rumors for hormones and development you have no power to control.

As I grew older I became wiser and cared less about what people thought. But that did not lessen my pain. As the years went on that town became increasingly colored with very fresh and real pain. The death of my first husband at twenty-four. The unexpected demolishing of family relationships.

There’s lots of pain in my story that I’ve made peace with but this particular wound plagues me often. I hear of people that have great family relationships and I can't comprehend that. I have friends who go “home” regularly and can’t wait to get there. I wish those things were true of me but they’re not and they may never be.

So for me home is in Downtown Orlando with my husband and a drool-covered Basset Hound. Home is friends gathered around the table breaking bread. Home is the patio Downtown where we’ve shared so much of life with the broken of our city and the people we love. Home is front yard fires and conversations that last deep into the night.

How do you define the concept of “home?” I’d love to hear in the comments below.


  1. I love your heart. and your definition of home :-)

    Home is where my husband and babies are. Right now its in this great, interesting house with an amazing view; in this house where God has taught us about opening our doors and letting Him minister to us and others through daily life. Home is wherever we are in the will of God.

    And when life is hard, I'm reminded that home is not here on this earth at all.

    1. I love it, friend. Thanks for sharing. I love how God is using you and blessing you in this season of life in the "castle" house.

  2. I shared a similar loathing for my hometown and on one of my visits God whispered, "I love these people - it's unfortunate that you do not." Needless to say, that softened my heart. Since then I worked through the serious issues I had and my later visits there have been very good.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Brian. I'm currently working through my issues but it will be a long journey. I also believe that some places/people/things are better avoided for one's own mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

  3. I feel exactly the same way about it Joy. The place holds no happiness or comfort for me and I avoid going there as often as possible (which is hard to do when the whole family lives on the same stupid road).

    Living in FP was a lesson in everything wrong with small towns and small people. It's tragic to look back and know how much you where hurting too because I always thought of you as having it all back then. You seemed to fit so much easier into that world despite being quirky and interesting and different. I wish we would've known then how to spare ourselves some of the silliest hurts.

    Although there is tragedy in the lose of your "place of awakening" as something sacred, I do think choosing to create your own home is empowering. You're making a life of your choosing rather than falling into the trap of "comfortable" that most of the people we grew up with did. Celebrate it!

  4. Renia, thanks for sharing. Back then I thought of us both as outsiders but that also gave us some really great commonalities. I also knew you would be able to relate to this post (and almost sent it to you directly.

    I agree. I love being able to choose how to define home and family even though it's not always ideal. I feel alive in my city full of diverse art, culture and ideas.