Returning Home

By Alaina Reed

June 14, 2022

When asked where I was from by anyone in the years leading up to college, I would say,  “Boise, Idaho”. To me, it sounded more impressive than, “Ashland, Ohio” when in reality, this is the place that I grew up, even though I spent the first two years of my life in the mountainous community of Boise. I saw Ashland as a city that moved at the pace of a car in molasses, and I wanted to move at the speed of light. I was frustrated with the stopping and chatting and seeing people I knew at every stop in town. I wanted to see new people, things, and places all the time, non-stop. I applied to college in New York, Scotland, California, Boston, and South Bend, Indiana. I landed again in the Midwest, and that is when I began to appreciate what home is. 

I was asked in my first year experience seminar to write a poem entitled, “Where I’m From”. I wrote about Village Point Market in Hayesville, farms, Walmart even, and for the first time I felt homesick. I distinctly remember a favorite middle school teacher, who was born and raised in the Bronx telling me, “there’s no better place to raise kids than Ashland”. And she was right. There is safety and peace in familiarity. Seeing the same faces over and over again means you begin to learn who they are. There is a beauty in that that only small towns, like Ashland, hold. While Ashland may not be my final landing place, it will always hold the special title of “home”.

Home is recognizing all the baristas at Downtown Perk. Home is knowing the drive to your best friend’s house like the back of your hand, so much so your body knows exactly when and where to pull the steering wheel. Home is passing long lost friends on the sidewalk and chatting for twenty minutes. I will always cherish the smiling faces I see everytime I walk into Fig & Oak, or Madame Bagnabit. When I came home for the first time, over Thanksgiving break, the first thing I did was hop in my car and drive down Main Street. I passed the bright lights of the Ashland Schine’s Theatre and a wave of peace flooded over my body. I was home. 

As I travel throughout life and the world, Ashland will always be my bedrock. The values I adopted here of kindness, service, and compassion will serve me the rest of my life. I no longer say I am “from” Boise, Idaho. I was born there. I was raised in Ashland, Ohio. That is where I am from.

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