I spent so many days and the last part of high school dreaming of the day that I would move far away from the small upstate New York town that I called home. Small is an understatement when I was one of only 5,000 other people who lived in the town with two stop lights. And who cares if there was a corn field at the end of my road, I would argue with anyone that I didn’t live in the country. Hubs still reminds me of the corn every time I say I lived in the village.
I did move far away from that town the moment I got the chance. I picked a small, I’m seeing a trend, liberal arts college in western Virginia, a good 9 hours from home. I was so excited and looking back it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I moved far out of my comfort zone. I learned how to do my own laundry, cook my own meals and learn to live with people from all over the country. It took a little while to understand the southern accents but I embraced it and even found best friends who were Yankees just like me. The same girls stood by my side when I got married, along with some southerners that I still call friends.
After graduation, I had the opportunity to move to a ‘big’ city and I jumped at the chance. Anything was better than moving back home, I thought. So after 10 years, I’m still living in that city but my impression of Waterloo has changed. Maybe it’s my age but I have so much more love for that little town than I ever expected.
Now it’s eight hours away and I try to make the trip a few times a year. Little Miss Mallory made her first trip up north with mom and big brother in tow for a week long vaca at Mimi and Packa’s (Peyton gave my parents their names) house. Both kids were angels on the drive up and they spent the week visiting with so many family members, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends who are like family and their GG (great grandma). We visited all of my favorite places, including a drive in restaurant that looks the same as it did when my parents ate their 40 years ago. They still only take cash (like many places in the ‘loo) still have the same hand painted menu and still have the best, I repeat best, root beer floats I have ever had. Peyton loved it and Mal slept through it so it was a successful outing.
The kids also experienced the benefits of living by the lake in the summer and knowing friends with a boat. Looking back, I don’t understand why I didn’t take more advantage of the water. Now the first thing I want to do when I get home is head to the lake.
It was such a great week and as always it went way too fast. Now having kids, I appreciate that everyone lives only five minutes away from each other and that having all your family around is amazing, not annoying.
I love Richmond and that’s my home now and that’s where my kids will grow up but Waterloo will have a special place in their hearts too, I’ll make sure of it. Who cares if there’s a corn field at the end of the street, I’ll show them one day where I learned to drive on those back country roads that I may or may not have gone into a ditch on my first time.
It was a great vaca though and until next time Waterloo, I’ll miss you. I wish the eight hours was just a little closer.
Kelli, a small town girl at heart