Coal towns and college towns and asphalt-paved-metropolis towns: they’ve all been my hometown at one point or another in my life. I’ve run through sprinklers in them all. I’ve collected fireflies and friendships in them all.
But Cartersville, she’s special. She’s the town I raised my girls in. She’s the town I’m raising my boys in.
She’s more than just a hometown. She’s a bodacious grand dame, with personality for days.
She’s got train tracks whipstitched across her landscape.
She’s got deep front porches and old oak trees, wax leaf magnolias and homespun hospitality.
She’s got a bridge straddling a waistband full of historic buildings and an underbelly freckled in trendy boutiques.
She’s got bakeries, bistros and bars.
Her skirts are a checkered hodgepodge of farmland and fields: soy beans and corn fields, cotton and sunflower, and don’t forget the baseball and football fields. She has all the fields.
A river runs through her, mountains ruffle her petticoats, and she’s got steeples sitting way up firm and high.
I love her so much. And I’m not the only one. New residents spill in from other cities, from other states, drawn to her charisma and charm. Growth is every which way you look…
Neighborhoods are blooming in former cow pastures and sod farms. School systems overflow their classrooms. Streets burst at their white-lined, yellow-dotted seams. True to her river roots, she collects rich new sediment daily.
Yes, she’s a big-boned, bodacious grand dame grown a bit blowsy in the infrastructure department, but oh, that personality!
She is my absolute favorite place. But she’s more than that. This little place… she’s my Home Place.
Home Place — a term used by my grandmother when speaking fondly of her childhood home in Appalachia — a place full of warmth and nostalgia, mists and mountains, kith and kin.
Whether a physical home or home town, the term seemed to be interchangeable for her. And since I never had a static childhood house or hometown of my own (my papa was a rolling stone), I’ve adopted Cartersville as my Home Place.
Like I had any choice in the matter… she’s magnetic. She pulled me in long ago and held me tight, anchoring my roots deep inside her silty soil. Her salt-of-the-earth people with their hearty smiles and ready hugs made me one of their own and never looked back. And neither did I.
Her people became my people.
And so did her transplants.
I owe the love of my life to an exotic hybrid set down within her fields of the carefully maintained, gridiron variety.
And I owe my Boy Mom status to a full season of careful and precise tending inside her field houses (I feel the need to clarify here… I’m talking painful IVF injections at halftime every Friday night for an entire fall, just so there’s no confusion :b)
Yes, this place is my home place.
And no matter how far and wide I wander, when I round the top of that hill on East Main, and that steepled skyline swings into view, I get a peaceful easy feeling.
I am back at my Home Place. And she is the best place I know.