What is home?
It always feels weird coming back. At first, it wasn't very weird because I had hardly been gone. The last few times I have visited though it has felt different. Lawrenceburg is my hometown. The place I spent the first 18 years of my life. The place my family and some of my oldest and closest friends live. The place I know like the back of my hand. The place that I did so many things and made so many memories. But, as I sit in my old bedroom typing this, I realize how much things have changed in the year and a half I haven't been here. New businesses and restaurants have moved in. The familiarity of the place isn't there anymore. Sometimes, I have to stop and think about which way to turn to get somewhere, or remember which way is the best to get somewhere. I look around the house I spent the better half of my childhood in and just feel nostalgia. I look at the pictures; I see my high school diploma and cap and gown; I see my old softball bag in the corner. Also, I see my duffel bags and backpack and laundry hamper (thanks mom). I realize this isn't home anymore. This is just a place I visit.
Somewhere in the past 18 months, Lawrenceburg has become the place I come to only for holidays and special occasions. It's now a place that I come to and make lunch dates with old friends or spend time with my family. The thing is, Chattanooga is my home. Let me take a moment and describe what home means to me. Home is where you are surrounded by people you care about and care about you. Home is where you can't wait to be at the end of the day. Home is where you can't wait to come back to when you leave. For me, that place has become Chattanooga. While my real family and some of my best friends are still in Lawrenceburg, I have new family and friends in Chatt. I have made a life for myself there and never looked back. I love the community and the people there and it has become home for me. When there was an active shooter on July 16 in Chattanooga, I could tell you exactly where I was when I found out. It was an event that rocked the community. My community. I had just finished my morning swim lessons when I heard and my heart hurt for the city I had come to love in such a short time. After a long day of classes and work, I long for my little apartment on Vine Street, and whenever I head west on I-24 I can't wait to be coming back around the bend a few days later.
A few nights before it was time to move into my dorm, I started getting scared. I knew I wanted to go to UTC, but I had never really been faced with having to make new friends or not knowing anyone (a perk of growing up in a small town). Suddenly, I was going to be on my own going through recruitment and starting a new job. Even though I ended up not joining a sorority, I did find a place at my new job. It helped me meet people and make friends and it wasn't so bad. My roommates were great, and even though I only knew like 4 people on campus, it wasn't so scary after the first few weeks. Comparing then to now, it's weird how much things have changed. Now I can walk across campus and see people I know left and right. I have met people and made lots of connections through various things I do. I have a whole other life there than I do in Lawrenceburg; I'm not Lucy and Tony's granddaughter, or Maria and Steve's daughter, or Alex's little sister. I'm just Britt.
My home may be 152 miles away now, but Lawrenceburg will always be my hometown and I'm proud to say that. Here's to hometowns and new homes and a happy Thanksgiving to y'all!