I’m a proud mountain girl. Nine times out of ten if you hear me utter the words, “I’m going home,” I’m referring to the tiny town where I was born and raised in Eastern Kentucky. This has to be normal, right? I haven’t actually lived there since I was 18 but throughout college, graduate school, jobs, and moving around after I got married, home was always the county seat of Knott County.
I’ve been very lucky to have short term hometowns as well. My favorite will always be Washington, PA where we spent three years while my husband was doing his family medicine residency. I knew nothing about Pennsylvania and at first living thirty miles outside of Pittsburgh didn’t sound very appealing. But it was a beautiful town and there were just enough hills to help me feel like I belonged. What made this place so special were the people. We made lifelong friends and two of our girls were born at The Washington Hospital. (Lily loves to tell people she’s from Pennsylvania.) However, I always knew this would be our temporary home. We wanted to come back to Kentucky and raise our family and be closer to our parents and siblings. The day we drove away form our little house on Main Street I cried like a baby. I couldn’t wait for our new chapter in Cynthiana, but I couldn’t figure out how to bring all of the people I had grown to love back to Kentucky.
I have to be very honest, my transition to becoming a Harrison County girl wasn’t an easy one. I loved my house and really loved having grandparents nearby for my girls. I was so proud that Stephen was working toward being the owner of a practice and my own parents were just two and half hours away instead of six. But I was lonely. I missed my friends so much and felt out of place. I wasn’t from here and suddenly this was where I would be living for a very long time. This is where my husband was born and raised and I had to find a way to make it my new hometown.
Thankfully I am not shy and I accepted pretty much any invitation from anyone for social and church activities. I took my girls to story hour at our library, joined a Mothers of Preschoolers group, and started exercising and met new people. I grew to love and appreciate Cynthiana but deep down I still considered Hindman as my true home.
In February my life changed forever. I lost my dad and thought I would probably lose my mind next. My mom was now in Hindman without any of her kids close by. I was worried about her, I felt I needed to be in Hindman, and worst of all, I couldn’t go “home” for good. Slowly I began to realize something had happened during my six years in Cynthiana. This was no longer just Stephen’s hometown. It was my hometown too. A week after my dad’s funeral people started cooking for me. Friends would text and call and made it clear that they were here for the long haul. These weren’t favors. They wanted to help me. One night as I marveled at the cards and kind deeds pouring in from people in “his” town Stephen quietly said, “Cassie, none of these people are doing this for me, they are doing this for YOU because they love YOU.” I was stunned. He was right.
As my heart continues its long journey toward healing, I am so touched and humbled. Whenever someone asks me where I am from, I will tell them I am actually from two places and both are my hometown.