There’s a quote by Oliver Wendell Homes that reads, “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” Those words resonated so deeply with me the first time I read them that I had them tattooed on my arm. I had the tattoo artist make the text look like a piece of thread unwinding from a spool to represent that my home was the thread that always held me together. That is exactly what Quitman is. It's the place full of all the people who have given me all of my strength and courage.
My feet have been many places and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had, the places I have seen, and the people I have known. Chicago has been the most recent city I have called home. This city has played such a pivotal role in my life. I have learned so much about myself here and the things that I want and need out of life. But that’s just it. For a while now it has been all about me and my selfishness has caught up with me. I have loved living here but if I am really honest with myself, the past several months have felt incredibly forced. It’s like when you are a little kid and you have a favorite shirt that you wear over and over and over again because it’s the greatest shirt in the whole world. But then you get a little taller and your belly starts to hang out from the bottom and the shoulders are a little tight, but you wear it anyway because it’s the greatest shirt in the world. You just can’t give it up until you actually bust out of it or your mom throws it away because she’s so embarrassed by the way you look. Well, that is kind of where Chicago and me are at right now. Something that used to fit and flatter me just doesn’t anymore.
I came to Chicago to chase a dream and follow my heart and I will never regret any part of it. Now it just seems my heart is taking me back home. It is so weird and I don’t have all the right words to articulate what my head and my heart are doing. If I had a dollar for every time I said I wouldn’t move back home, I would be in a lot less debt. But those words have not turned into dollars. They haven’t even turned into the truth. But I do know that during this season of life I want to be with my family. I want to sit at the table with Jim and listen to him use words that I don't comprehend or know how to spell. And I want to be there when Donnis freaks out because she spelled something wrong in her tweet and she doesn't know how to delete it. That's what I know.
So Quitman, MS, if you will have me, I am coming back. I can’t promise that it will be forever, but it most certainly is for now.
I cannot lie to you and say that I don’t feel a little banged up and tossed around, because I do. Bruised, but definitely not broken. There are parts of me that feel like I’ve failed and disappointed people. There are parts of me that are scared and uncertain. But there is a bigger part of me that is hopeful and refreshed. That’s the part I’ve been missing. I still have a lot more questions than I have answers. That just seems to be the way life is. I don’t know how this is all going to play out, but I’m getting excited to find out. I’m grateful to be from a place that’s easy to miss. I’m grateful for a family who will help me pick up the pieces when I drop them. I’m grateful for a gracious, redeeming God. I’m grateful for a father who always told me I could come home and put a cardboard box in the yard anytime I was ready to. (Although, I have a feeling he’s going to let me sleep inside.)
I'll see you soon, Mississippi!