It’s Just A Place

By Diane Stark

“One of my teachers asked us to raise our hands if we are planning to live here in Indiana when we are adults,” my 16-year-old son, Jordan, told me. “And no one raised their hand.”

“Well, things don’t always work out the way you think they will,” I said.

“But not one kid raised their hand, Mom. Every single person said they are getting out of here as soon as they can.”

“That might be their plans at 16 years old, but that’s not what’s going to happen.”

“How do you know?”

“Think about Dad and his siblings. Of the seven of them, how many live within 10 miles of the house they grew up in?”

He thought for a minute. “Four.”

“And look at your friends’ parents,” I continued. “How many of them grew up around here and are now raising their families here?”

Jordan named a few people, and his sister, Julia, jumped in with a few more. “Dad went to high school with several of your friends’ parents,” I added. “For that matter, both of your school principals went to school with Dad.”

“So obviously, a lot more people stay around here than I thought, but I still plan to go to a big city,” Jordan said.

“That’s fine, but please remember that you can be happy anywhere, Bud.”

“I think I’d be happier in a big city.”

“Maybe, but happiness is more about attitude than location. This small town in Indiana is not my favorite of all of the places I’ve lived in my life, but I am happier now than I’ve ever been.” I shrugged. “Where you live is just a place. It’s not your whole life.”

Just a few days later, I was dropping Julia off at her best friend’s house. The girl’s father was a detective with the local police department, and her mom is our family doctor. They both attended high school with my husband. I mentioned my conversation with the kids, and she nodded. “When I was their age, I’d planned to leave too,” she said. “But we got married and got jobs here, and then I got pregnant, and it just seemed easier to stay.” She smiled. “It wasn’t what we’d planned, but it’s good. Tell Jordan he can be happy anywhere.”

I grinned. “That’s exactly what I told him. Where we live is just a place.”

Later that night, I was thinking about how long it had taken me to learn that lesson. As a teenager, I don’t think I thought too much about where I’d live as an adult, but I had definite ideas about the kind of man I would marry and how many children I would have. But our teenage idealistic dreams aren’t always – or usually – the ways things turn out.

When I was in my late 20s, my then-husband was up for a promotion. This promotion would require a move from our Indianapolis home to Columbia, South Carolina. Another employee was getting ready to retire, and his company had made my husband the heir apparent for the retiree’s job. Our move seemed almost guaranteed, and I wanted it badly.

As I endured what was supposed to be my last Indiana winter, I bragged to friends that I wouldn’t have to put up with the snow much longer. As I scraped ice off of my windshield, I dreamed of the milder climate I would soon be enjoying. But in December of that last Indiana winter, my husband left me.

And two years later, he moved to Florida with his second wife.

I, on the other hand, have endured ten Indiana winters since what was supposed to be my last one. Ten more winters. That’s 30 months of ice, snow and wind chills cold enough to make your toes turn black and fall off.

But guess what? I’ve never been happier.

Because my teenaged-self knew what she wanted. She wanted to marry a guy who loves God and loves her and her kids. And she wanted lots of kids.

I got remarried eight years ago. My husband, Eric, is a wonderful man who brought two children into our marriage. He loves my kids from my first marriage, and we’ve had a little boy together. My teenaged-self wanted lots of kids, and now I’ve got five of them.

Where you live really is just a place. It’s who you live with that matters. I am 100% convinced that I am happier living in snowy Indiana with Eric than I would be living anywhere else with anyone else.

Now this does not mean that I am not occasionally jealous of my friends who live in milder climates. I am Facebook friends with Sasee’s editor, Leslie Moore. And when she posts anything about the beach in the months of December, January or February, I do sigh with a twinge of envy. I still count the days until the snow will finally melt, and it will stay light past 6 pm. And I am practically giddy the first time I am able to wear my flip-flops after that long winter.

I don’t love winter, but I actually do love living in Indiana. Or to be more precise, I love my life, and my life is in Indiana.

I am living proof that we can be happy anywhere. I hope my kids figure that out.

Because I’d really like the grandkids to live close by.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Response to “It’s Just A Place”

  1. Diane, I so loved your essay, proof that home really is where the heart is.

Leave your mark with style

Comment in style

Stand out from the crowd and add some flare beside your comment.
Get your free Gravatar today!

Make it personal

avatar versus gravatar Close