There’s No Place Like Home

This time last year, my husband and I didn’t realize how much things would change and how quickly those changes would happen. This time last year, we didn’t plan on moving back to my hometown. Sure, we had thought about what that would be like. But nothing was really causing us to make an immediate decision. We were fine living in Texas, even though on the Christmas before, with no family around, we’d spent a rather sad day by ourselves. I had told my husband that I would never do that again. It reminded me of another Christmas, 30+ years ago, when my Daddy was dying in Louisana, and we spent Christmas at our home in Tennessee, trying to make it a good one for our then three-year-old daughter. It was the most depressing Christmas I have ever had.

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What made us pack up and relocate to Monroe, Louisiana, where I grew up, and what caused us to make that decision in the span of one week? A series of things – a house that my sister/real estate agent showed me one year ago, a price that decreased by $15,000 the day after I looked at it, and the realization that life would be better for us if we were close to family.  It was knowing that we’d always have someone nearby for holidays and birthdays and that my sister and I could enjoy coffee or lunch or a quick drop-by visit whenever we wanted. So we put an offer on the new house, listed and sold ours, and by May we were living in my hometown just eight minutes from my sister and her husband.

It was knowing that we’d always have someone nearby for holidays and birthdays and that my sister and I could enjoy coffee or lunch or a quick drop-by visit whenever we wanted.

Looking back on everything, I find it hard to believe it has been a year since that decision was made. We love it here in our comfortable house in this wonderful neighborhood. When I think “what if we were still living in Texas,” it makes me feel hollow inside. Being away from my sister and mom for all those years didn’t seem too bad until both of our adult children moved out of state. We really had no reason to remain in Texas.

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For two retirees like my husband and me, Monroe, Lousiana, is a perfect location. The slow, easy pace of life and a 15-minute max drive to anywhere we want to go in the area. The friendly people who almost always know someone else you know. Going back to the church we attended when our family of four lived here the first time in the late 80s before a job transfer took us to Texas.

We enjoy staying around the house but there are many things to do if we want them, on a smaller scale than what Texas has to offer, but still fun and interesting. Museums such as the art venue in a Tudor-style home built on the Ouachita River in 1929, a military and aviation museum housed in the last remaining classrooms of the Selman Field Navigation School, the largest navigation school in the U.S. during WWII. In the Riverside home of the man who put Coca-Cola in a bottle for the first time, a museum pays tribute to the much-loved carbonated drink, and a collection of rare and unique Bibles and other religious items collected by his daughter are on display. Visitors can tour the museum and home, and enjoy the well-kept, beautiful gardens. A museum of natural history is located on the beautiful campus of the University of Louisana at Monroe, and a national wildlife refuge sits on 4,500 acres, with a boardwalk nature trail that winds through the forested swamp. Monroe has a symphony, a community theatre with roots dating back to the 1920s, a children’s museum with interactive fun and learning activities, museums focusing on African American history and Jewish history. There is a spring and fall river market with vendors, a zoo, and a nearby vineyard that hosts regular outdoor music.

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Coming back home means that I am noticing everything with a visitor’s eye. The wide variety of local attractions and the community events – home and garden expos, downtown art crawls, high school and college athletic events, karaoke, a lively night scene in bars, and music in the park, and a robust library system that I regularly use. I appreciate the new restaurants, businesses, and nightspots that are drawing people back to the downtown buildings that once were the heart of Monroe. I have enjoyed eating at some of the locally-owned restaurants, and that exploration will continue. Some are uniquely Louisiana, like the crawfish places, and those with decks overlooking the river and bayous. Those sunsets are something to see!

Coming back home means coming back to connections, to family and to friends I grew up with who have remained here. Coffees and lunches with people I have known for my whole life. Bible study and neighborhood visits with new friends. Running into my sister or a friend in the grocery store.

Being home means that I can drive by the house I grew up in, feel a little sad, but then drive on by knowing that a beautiful new family has made it their home.

Coming back home means seeing things that need to be improved in my community,  and wanting to help make this a better place to live and raise a family. It means exploring how I might want to give back to this hometown of mine to help it become a place that more people might consider moving to or coming back home to.

After all, there’s no place like home.

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West Texas Beautiful

Big sky, red dirt, unexpected mountains, then flatlands. Deer along the roadside and roadrunners across the highway. Lots of history and mystery. That is beautiful West Texas.

 

 

 

 

That’ll Be The Day the Music Died

Buddy Holly’s grave is still visited by many and his music considered a major contribution to rock and roll. At a time when that genre of music was just breaking out, Buddy Holley and the Crickets dared to be different. My cousin went to high school with him in Lubbock, Texas, and said Buddy was in the choir with him. “My friend and I were looking for two other guys for a quartet we wanted to startup,”he remembers. “We found the third, and as we were thinking about who to get for the fourth, one of the guys said, ‘whatever you do, don’t get Holly – he can’t carry a tune in a paper bag.'”

Buddy’s gravesite is a nice memorial to him, with nearly placed guitar picks, pennies and nickles, marbles and other colored glass, a poem in a clear plastic bag filled with rocks, a couple of golf balls, a tennis ball, and a rectangular-shaped wood block piece that I didn’t understand. But I don’t have to understand. To someone, to a lot if someones, Buddy WAS rock and roll in those early days, and he still is today. THAT is easy to understand.

Buddy Holly's gravesite
Buddy Holly’s gravesite in Lubbock, Texas

Everything’s coming up bluebonnets in Texas 

  

 The state flower of Texas blooms along highways and roads, in parks and fields, and sometimes just in the yard. Beautifully designed for our viewing pleasure, they look just as good up close as they do from a distance. It is a spring ritual for Texans to find a patch of bluebonnets and take pictures of their kids, grandkids or pets in the sea of blue and white. Bluebonnets…a true Texas favorite!

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