Born and raised in Gallia County, I left for more than a decade, returning in recent years to establish permanent roots.
As a teenager, I wished for more to see, more to do, more stimulation, more excitement. I imagined experiencing far and distant lands. I wanted to live among the hustle and bustle of a city. I intended to grow up as quickly as possible, ride off into the glittery sunset and never come back.
The day I loaded up my few belongings and set out on the first real journey of my adult life, I was 23 years old. I waved goodbye to my mom and, in an effort to convince her everything was going to be just fine, smiled my brightest, most confident smile. Moments after pulling out of her driveway, an overwhelming sense of grief swallowed me whole—and that’s when the tears started to flow.
The first lesson I learned that day: leaving home is easier said than done.
Weeks, months and years passed. Despite successfully adapting to a new and different way of life, I never stopped missing home. Sure, small towns have their fair share of issues. But, bigger cities come with things like heavy traffic, high cost of living, crime, social disconnectedness and noise. Lots of noise.
The novelty of the bright lights, shopping districts and endless restaurant options quickly wore thin. Living and working in this type of environment made me yearn for the quiet, familiar comfort of the little Ohio River town I had left behind.
Often in need of a break from the busy lifestyle I had adapted to, trips home to Gallia County became my escape. When I needed to slow down and recharge my batteries, I came back to the place where people I passed on the street smiled and called me by name. The place where a simple trip to the local grocer turned into a long overdue class reunion. I was home, but only temporarily.
No matter where I lived, worked or traveled, Gallia County was always at the center of my heart and mind. If I wasn’t home for a visit, I was thinking about going home for a visit. While my colleagues displayed framed photos of themselves and their families vacationing in exotic places, my desk was decorated with fleur-de-lis and pictures of my children standing near the Bandstand. I may have left home, but home never left me.
In 2013, my family and I returned to Gallia County. Three years later, we are happy, thriving, thankful and proud to share this wonderful little community with kind, caring, involved citizens.
Of all the places I have lived and visited over the years, only one is worthy of being called home. It is where I was raised, where I met and married my husband and where the majority of my history and memories reside.
There really is no place like it…
Jennifer Walker owns Osmosis Marketing Solutions, a Gallia County business specializing in PR, marketing and social media management.
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