Thomas Wolfe authored a novel titled You Can’t Go Home Again. It’s about a successful novelist who returns home and is shunned because the characters in his books were indeed about real people in his home town, and they were ashamed and angry they he had exposed them. Even though I spent a decade in Florida after leaving my home town, I never wrote or spoke anything inflammatory about those I once knew. Mostly, I was trying to shed the coat of existence that had been placed upon me. That coat contained more than 2 decades of history, and many people who knew me before I could walk. Sometimes when people know exactly who you are, it’s hard to become what God has destined you to become. Six months ago, we all moved back home – history in tote.
After nearly 10 years of fighting to get myself and my family in better positions, and redefining who I was, my fear was that hitting this reset button would reset who I had become. My fear has not become a reality. Instead I find myself even more determined to become who I am destined to be, and reading my last name will not remind anyone of who I was decades ago, it will remind them of what they see right in front of their eyes. The path of my life in Kentucky has been wide and straight, and even easy, so far.
When I left Kentucky I felt small, vulnerable, poor and failed. Probably because I was all of those things. To say that I had struggled mightily is an understatement. Like many Americans who had faced similar fates in decades past, we packed up everything we could fit in the smallest trailer we could rent, and headed South. Upon reflection, that journey was reckless, and even stupid. Rachel and I drove nearly 1000 miles with 3 small children with everything we could carry and very little money. When we arrived at Florida, we had hoped there was a place to stay, as was promised, and that we could make it. This was a sink or swim moment, and one I cannot imagine putting my children through at this stage in my life. But after 10 years, not only did we swim, we became better people, harder workers, fighters, and survivors. Maybe those traits best define us now. We have lost battles, we have been hurt – but we pushed, achieved, and finally over-achieved.
In our return home, we carry those values we have earned, not because we choose to, but because that’s who we are now. I return home not in defeat and with lowered shoulders, but in victory, shoulders back and prepared to be victorious of anything and everything that gets in the way. If that thing is history or people I knew or once knew or heard about, then so it will be. I’m home and am ready to receive what is mine, and for that matter, what is yours. I am victorious.