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There's no place like homePosted Wednesday, September 14, 2011, at 2:07 PM
Once I graduated college -- I had spent the last years commuting to Vincennes University -- I was convinced I needed to get out of this black hole I called my hometown.
I was tired of everyone knowing my business and not being able to walk across the street without someone reporting back to my mother.
I was an adult, and I wanted to feel like one. After months of arguing and inconclusive persuasions to stay in Greene County, my parents finally decided to help me pack up all my belongings and move me to Evansville.
I was convinced this was what I wanted. I ended up with a small studio apartment, with no bedroom, and an ugly green refrigerator, but I was ecstatic.
I started working at the Arby's down there - I had worked at the one in Linton for almost five years.
The first month was great. I would go to the store and not be stopped a hundred times by former peer's parents or my mom's best friend. No one reported back to my family and friends when I would walk to the gas station. I thought it was a form of heaven on earth.
A month later I started to pick up on the negative sides of the city. I was living on the east side, farthest from USI campus.
My neighbors were less than pleasant. I didn't know any of their names. We exchanged nods, and my smile disappeared as it became more apparent they weren't interested in my gestures of kindness. Most of all, the woman at the end of the complex kind of scared me.
"I hope you don't make much noise because I wake up every morning at 4 a.m.," my neighbor told me the day I moved in, then walked away.
She once spent 20 minutes growling to me about all the awful people in our apartment complex as I attempted to carry a week's worth of groceries into my apartment.
"There was a drunk guy sleeping in the laundry room last night. Don't think I haven't been watching you on your way down there," she told me in a grumble one afternoon.
I wasn't sure whether to thank her or just save my laundry for trips home.
As the feeling of rebellion quickly dissipated, I started to notice the frequent sirens just outside of my apartment window, all day and all night.
I went to the store in the mid-afternoon, and as normal, ran into no one I knew.
That was when I really started to feel alone in the "big city."
I started making more frequent trips back home, using the excuse that my sister needed me in the last trimester of her pregnancy.
Although, three months in, I changed my mind about my new refuge. I was not good at making new friends, and I realized I liked running into people I knew at the store.
I wanted to come home.
I called my family, and within weeks my sister had found us a house. It was nothing special, but it was back in Greene County.
When we moved to our house in Linton, my neighbors on both sides introduced themselves. The lady across the street told me if I needed anything to let her know. The women with the conjoining yard took a moment to play with my nephew in our back yard before returning to her gardening.
Last week I went to a school board meeting. My old high school principal, now superintendent, talked to me like it hadn't been five years since our last real conversation.
The parents of three students I graduated with, whom I hadn't seen since 2007, spoke to me as though I was an old friend.
People I have met from all parts of the county at least say hello in passing, even if I have only met them once.
I realized that was what Greene County is about. It is about knowing and caring for one another. I can go to practically any place in Greene County and see a warm smile directed at me, and my acquaintances can expect a smile in return.
I hear so many teenagers promise they are leaving Greene County once they graduate high school. I just smile and tell them they will be back. They never seem to believe me.
Home is where the heart is. No matter how frustrating your family may seem, they are the ones that will almost always welcome you back with open arms.
Sabrina is a staff writer for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 847-4487.
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