Inspiration Journal

Vacationing Back Home

Vacationing Back Home www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Traci Rhoades

Last June, we went on an outing to the local Goodwill store, followed by dinner at Pizza Hut. Nothing all that exciting, believe me. In a small town, you entertain yourself in smaller ways I suppose.

As we left the house, my cousin said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we all lived by each other and could do stuff like this all the time?”

That’s the thing. It wasn’t what we were doing. It was who we were doing it with. My daughter and I had made the long drive back to my hometown so we could spend time with family. The aunts, uncles and cousins I grew up with every day of my childhood. In those days, our lives were so intertwined, you never knocked on the door when you arrived at one another’s houses. The bank-issued calendar Mom had hanging on the wall in her kitchen always had the words “family gathering” written in permanent markers on holidays.

Eventually, my college years and then life in general took me away from that small Missouri town. All the way to the coastline of Lake Michigan. I haven’t lived in my hometown for twenty-plus years now. How is that even possible?

When I was younger and building a career, I didn’t give much thought to living far away from my family. Especially when I got married, my husband and I were busy starting our own life together; working full-time and settling in to our first home. It wasn’t until we had our daughter that I started longing for the people and things back home.

Except home had changed too. My mom no longer lives in the town where we grew up. My brothers moved away as well. Many of my cousins settled in the big city nearby because the job market was better. The reality is I can’t go home because in a thousand ways big and small that place doesn’t exist anymore. I know this.

However, at least once a year, usually in the summer, my daughter and I pack up the car and start driving southwest out of Michigan. We make the trek across a little corner of Indiana and on through Chicago (watching the clock to ensure we won’t be driving through during rush hour). At that point, I always heave a huge sigh of relief because I survived the construction and traffic of big city driving once again. A few hours later, we cross over the bridge at Hannibal, which takes you from Illinois into Missouri. A piece of my heart always settles as we cross over. Home. Although it’s a long trip, we usually arrive pretty rested because driving what is now a familiar route after all these years makes the miles go by faster and easier. Also, we gain an hour going there as we travel from the Eastern Time Zone to Central.

I can still struggle knowing my daughter won’t have everyday memories with my side of the family. From time to time, I allow myself to daydream about another childhood she could have had. It’s not one ounce better than the one she’s living now. Just a different one with another cast of characters.

She’s teaching me these characters still play a big role in her life though. For months now, she’s been asking about our trip to Missouri. She’s got her own list of things she wants to do when she gets there, because we always do them. They’ve become tradition for her. Many of the activities are the exact things I used to look forward to when I was a kid. A day at the amusement park. Swimming at the city pool. Playing at the park with the big rocket and the lion-shaped water fountain. Donuts at the new shop on Washington Street. Of course, a trip (or two) to the local Goodwill store. She asks if she’ll get to play with her cousins and if we’ll see my aunts and uncles.

What I have always tried to tell myself in my mind is starting to settle into my heart. The people I loved from my own childhood do play a part in hers. She may have an everyday life elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean she can’t build memories and traditions where I come from. Her world’s just a bigger place, that’s all.

About the author

Traci Rhoades

My name is Traci. I live in southwest Michigan, somewhere in a triangular section connecting Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids with all things Lake Michigan. My husband and I parent one daughter. We have dogs, cats, ducks, pigs and chickens. Their number is always changing, as farm animal counts tend to do. I enjoy watching sports, reading, cooking and all things Bible study. I am a writer. When I first started blogging, I wondered about what unique voice I could bring. I’ve landed on this one line: A country girl goes to church.

  • Carrie Rutherford Shane

    This is so sweet. The memories you are creating with your daughter are precious and ones she will probably always remember. Having been an army brat, I moved around every year or so. Though it had it’s good qualities and I saw so much of the country, I often wish I had grown up in a hometown.

    • http://www.tracesoffaith.com/ Traci Rhoades

      I’ll forever love my hometown. Moving would have been hard, although I always thought it’d be cool to see so much of the country/world. We always dream, don’t we?!

  • http://www.leadingfromthedeepend.com Deep End Leader

    My family was always scattered across the nation, but that meant that our times together were that much sweeter, too. You took me back down memory lane – thanks!

    • http://www.tracesoffaith.com/ Traci Rhoades

      You’re so right… that much sweeter. It’s like you know the time is valuable. Thanks for that perspective.

  • http://kidcongeniality.com KidCongeniality

    There’s nothing like family time! Whether you can get together often or have to save up vacation time to get together once a year those will certainly be the memories you always treasure! Glad you are able to take your daughter to see her family!

    • http://www.tracesoffaith.com/ Traci Rhoades

      You’re right, there’s nothing like it! We are all pretty spread apart, but when we get together, memory lane is open!

      • http://kidcongeniality.com KidCongeniality

        So kool!

  • http://themonarchmommy.com Stefanie / The Monarch Mommy

    This is so great! I’ve been longing to move closer to “home” for a little while, but it’s true that it isn’t the same any more!

    • http://www.tracesoffaith.com/ Traci Rhoades

      Stefanie, I have to keep it all in perspective. So many things have changed there. It’s better if I just enjoy the visits to their fullest!

  • http://www.wifemommyme.com Stephanie

    When I was in my 20’s my parents moved south to a small town on a ton of land and started a country life. Farming, harvesting, animals, the whole thing. I am much a city girl and plan to always leave close to a big metropolitan. And my son loves visiting my parents and going “to the farm”. His childhood will similar to mine but with a chance to experience the country which I didn’t have.

    • http://www.tracesoffaith.com/ Traci Rhoades

      I love this Stephanie (also I thought I’d already responded to your thoughts here)! That your son gets to have the added experience of country life memories. I am awed sometimes when I think on all the things my daughter, at eight years old, has already done! It’s a great big world!!

  • http://www.corter.co Jennifer Corter

    This is such a wonderful post. I live in a small town myself, but my husband and I are going to an EVEN smaller town, to visit our son’s great-grandparents and my husband’s maternal side of the family. Everything is in walking distance. My son is getting older now (he’ll be six in August), and he can’t wait to go next week, and never wants to leave.

    • http://www.tracesoffaith.com/ Traci Rhoades

      Thank you for reading! It’s neat to see the very simple things our kids will look forward to.