I spent the first three years of my life on our dairy farm just north of Russellville, Kentucky. At least, I think it was north of town, don’t really remember. I spent the next ten years on our dairy farm in Todd County, between Pembroke, Elkton and Trenton. We didn’t own two farms; Dad sold the first to buy the other. He subsequently sold the second farm to a young couple and consigned my services to them for six months so I could finish out my eighth grade year at Trenton.
By that illusion of stability, I was able to complete all of my first eight years of school at the same place. Same school building, same gym, same cafeteria, same place to pile cinders from the coal-fired furnace. For the most part, I had the same classmates for all eight years.
Since then, I’ve lived in twenty-four different homes in at least ten different towns, cities, communities. Just for the record, there were no evictions or convictions involved in any of those relocations. Just different opportunities of economic or educational purpose and sometimes both at the same time.
Yesterday, I talked at some length with a man who grew up right here in Ark City. Graduated from high school here, and then two years at the junior college. Finished his bachelors at another college a dozen miles away but still in Cowley County. Earned his doctorate of jurisprudence in Topeka. Except for a year-and-a-half in Chicago, he has spent his entire career in this area. Since 1975, right here in Arkansas City, Kansas. Still here, still working.
I haven’t lived in the same place for more a few years in my entire life.
I don’t have a lot of regrets and yet I can’t help wondering about the differences that has to make—to know the same places and faces for all those years. To have relationships that have held for that long. For children and grandchildren to grow up with that same sort of familiar comfort, to know and be known.
But then, I also realize that sometimes children choose something else, even when their roots in a place run back for multiple generations. We do not make their choices nor do they always pattern them after the ones we have made. We all sort through the options, trust in faith and take our chances.
And, having seen samples of both, I’ve come to know that where we live doesn’t matter nearly as much as how we live. Ultimately we’re all just passing through. Those who walk in love will always find good neighbors and make good friends.