When I first found out I was moving to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, I was heartbroken. After so many moves, I didn’t think my heart could find another home.
Flash forward four and a half years later, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Kentucky is my home. It’s the high school where I met the friends I know I will have for life. It’s the sweet, small-town vibes of Elizabethtown. It’s the day I released lanterns at Kentucky speedway with my favorite people. It’s the place my youngest sister was born, in the hospital where my mom worked and saved lives. It’s where I grew up with my sisters and shared the legacy of three of us attending the same high school. It’s my 16th birthday trip to Cumberland Falls. The random trips to Louisville exploring the city, walking along the bridge. It’s where I graduated high school and gave the graduation speech, something I never thought I would live anywhere long enough to do. And most important of all, it’s what led me to my college adventure at the University of Kentucky.
I’ve been to many places, explored over 75% of the United States. And yet I still wonder what else the world holds for me. I once again, leave heartbroken. But I also leave with the knowledge of why, which makes it even more bittersweet.
For me, moving during a pandemic really put everything into perspective. There are people that I wish I could have said goodbye to. There are places I wish I could have gone one last time. And there are memories I wish I could relive, memories I wish I was more present for.
As someone who moves quite frequently, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s never the physical location that brings me to tears every time I watch a town fade away through my car window. It’s the memories and the moments that made the town come to life. It’s not the places I went, but the people who went with me. It’s not the home I lived in, but the atmosphere of home that my family and friends created. It’s not a feeling that fades, but a feeling that is close by in my heart where it was created.
My advice is for everyone to recognize what makes them feel at home. For everyone to take a second to live in the moment and fully invest yourself in holding on to your happy place. Don’t wait until you're driving away and wondering if the feeling will ever come back.
I went for a final drive downtown today and there is a sign that reads “Love Lives Here.” And as I leave this town, I know in my heart this statement couldn’t be more true.
Elizabethtown was the home where my heart grew the most. Love truly does live there, and it lives in all the places that have held a piece of my heart, and all the places to come.