Childhood, Life

“Back Home”

I blame my childhood friend Vikki for this post.
She lives in the little town I grew up in.
And she is an amazing gatekeeper to our past.
She shares pictures, stories about town happenings and news about former classmates and teachers.
For someone like me who lives far away, this is amazingly important.
Because in this little Ohio town lies my past.
My childhood.
My memories.
My story.

This reminds me of home
I think the start of the school year gets to me. It seems like around this time, every year I get emotional.
And I can’t figure out why.
Last year this time I wrote a post.
About going back.
To being a seventh grader again.
Or just to being a minor again.
Living under your mommy and daddy’s roof.
As I get older, I yearn for those days.
Especially since my mommy and daddy live far away.
Definitely not close enough to go to their bedroom and lay in their bed and have a good cry.
I can’t visit my childhood home.
Well, I could but then I would be arrested.
Because it is someone else’s home now.

It brings back a flood of memories.

I mention here and there that I am from Ohio.
Not as much as I used to because, with each year that I spend living in Illinois, I am less and less an Ohioan.
It isn’t how I introduce myself anymore.
It doesn’t come up in conversation when I meet a stranger anymore.
Unless they have grown up in Ohio.
My rural central Ohio accent long is gone, I am a Chicagoan now.
My love for rural Ohio, however, will never die.


Barn in the country reminds me of home

I moved to Chicago in 1989 with my family when my dad transferred here with his company.
A company that has taken him on to two different locales and to where they live now.
I didn’t want to move here.
Things here were busy.
And fast.
People were in a hurry.
And the pizza had the meat ON TOP!?
What the…

For the first ten years we lived here, I referred to Ohio as “back home”.

“Where are you going next week, Kari?”
“Back home.”

And my friends knew what that meant.
Now, it’s just Ohio.
Not back home.
I don’t know exactly when the change happened, but it did.
Slowly and not intentionally.


My home town junior high in Lexington Ohio
My junior high school.
Photo courtesy of Vikki Schuster Bartlett


When we go back to visit now, it is to Columbus to visit my brother and his sweet little family.
We don’t get back to my little hometown as much since it is an hour away.
And there just aren’t enough hours in each day.

I would need an entire day to explore Kell Hardware……to go get a banana shake and a burger at JB’s……….go to the grocery and pick up some Jones Chips………go lay on the ground next to my Gramma’s grave where my Grampa, great Gramma, great Grampa, aunts, and uncles are all buried and talk and cry.


Home is in Ohio

This may seem simple, but the above is my definition of a perfect day.

When I came back to Ohio this past July for my brother’s birthday party and another whirlwind weekend (why don’t I schedule more time??), I was crossing the border into Ohio and a song came on my iPod.
Take Me Home by Phil Collins.

No lie.
I got tears in my eyes and my oldest asked me why.
Because, my dear, Ohio is to me what Illinois will be to you.
Where I learned to ride a bike.
Where I got my first period.
Where I had my first love.
Where I learned who I was.
Where I had my first job.
As much as you will fall in love with wherever you land, there is no place that can ever compete with Home.

I have now lived in Illinois longer than I did in Ohio.
That milestone happened in 2009.
I was at my cousin’s house when someone mentioned it.
And it made me a little sad.
I was no longer officially an Ohioan.
I was an Illinoisan.
But it’s all good.
I got Jones Chips number on speed dial.

16 thoughts on ““Back Home””

  1. I get you. Ohio is home to me, too. But so is Kentucky. And now, Illinois. But you are right. There is nothing quite like the place where you grew up. That said, I'm glad that we both ended up on Illinois. If we had both stayed in Ohio, we probably would have never met. Funny, isn't it?


  2. From a fellow Ohioan, great post. I moved away for 10 years but returned when I had a family. Though I don't live in the same town I grew up in, my parents do, still in the same house. Ohioans are just good people. I wouldn't want my kids raised anywhere else.


  3. This post brings on all kinds of feels. I left Texas at 19 and felt incomplete the whole time I was gone. I'm back now and every time I threaten to leave I have to remind myself what it was like. On another note, I can't believe that that post about your childhood was a year ago. That post rang so true to me, and I feel like a big creeper because I have been reading your blog for apparently a year and have commented maybe once. So I'm Hannah! Not weird, just comment shy.


    1. I love comments like this! Thank you so much, Hannah and thank you for reading along. It means a lot to me. 🙂


  4. I totally get your feeling about wanting to go back to childhood for a little. I always say–just a day here and there would be fun. I am also a transplant–I have been in Illinois for nearly 20 years. I am originally from New Jersey. When I introduce myself, I still explain that I am originally from New Jersey. I don't think that will ever change. Nice post!


  5. This post, like so many others, really hit home with me. I grew up in NM and moved to TX right before my freshman year of high school. I have lived in Texas much longer than I lived in NM but NM is still home. I go back and can find my way around town with zero hesitation. I wasn't even driving when I left but still, nothing there has changed. My kids love to hear stories about my growing up there and I have loved being able to take them back to see "my childhood". When my daddy passed away I actually went to the old barbershop where he had gotten his haircut since before I came along. The same barber was in there with the exact same hairstyle he had in 1989 (and before). I asked him if he remembered me and it took him a minute but he was able to associate me with my daddy. It totally blew my daughter out of the water that someone remembered me from 20+ years ago. That's just the way it is. So, thank you so much for this. Ohio looks like such a great place to grow up and I am glad I am not the only one that feels this way about my hometown.


  6. Great post. Reminds me that I grew up in AK, several small towns, one of them only had about 30 reisdents!. That one was a railroad town that is no longer at the same site. That doesn't hold too much of my heart. But the other – I started 6th grade there and graduated there even after my family moved in the middle of that year. And then I left. My story line goes like this: "It took me 18 years to get home, and 10 years to get the heck out of there!" But my youngest son grew up in the same little town I did. We both still consider it home. And soemtimes I think about moving back to the state. But only briefly! I'm a nomad… But God always puts people in my life that justify being where I am. Like he has for you. You have nice friends!


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