Going Home

This is my home, Wilmington, North Carolina. I was born here, but I haven’t always lived here. My family relocated to Florida when I was five years old. But Wilmington was always home.

Most families leave home to go on vacation. My family’s vacation was to go home.

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.  ~Charles Dickens

Yesterday’s challenge on the Daily Word was What is your favorite word? Why?

“Home” is the best word to my ears. It conjures up comfort, warmth, familiarity, love.

My family moved a lot when I was a kid. I went to thirteen different schools in twelve years. Some years, I went to different schools in the same year. It was hard to feel like you had a “home” when your home kept changing from one rented house to another every few months.

I guess that’s why “home” became so important to me. I needed, desperately, a place that I could feel connected to.

Every year, in the summer, my parents would pack my brother and myself into the back of whatever car we happened to have at the time, from whatever city in Florida we were living in, and they would say, “We’re going on vacation kids! We’re going home.”

It was a good twelve-hour ride in the back-seat of the car, cooped up with my younger brother, and books and toys that were supposed to keep us occupied. There was also no air conditioner in the cars in those days, so it was hot. My dad liked to get a good early start, which meant getting up at three am so we could be on the road by four.

After a long day on the road, enduring the heat and the constant bickering with my brother about who was taking up more room, the best part for me was driving over the Cape Fear River and my first view of home.

My dad would say, “Look, kids! We’re home!”

I would get a lump in my throat. I would crane my neck to look out of the backseat window, so I could get a view of the familiar Wilmington waterfront – the church spires, the boats in the river including the majestic BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA, the quaint historic buildings.

Going home meant visits with friends and relatives; aunts and uncles, cousins, both grandmothers. It meant playing on my grandmother’s front porch, eating from a huge pot of goulash that was prepared by her loving hands, going to sleep on the back porch with my cousins, listening to the crickets, giggling under the covers.

Going home meant spending the day under Johnny Mercer’s Pier at Wrightsville beach, slathering on Coppertone, eating hot dogs with chili and  coleslaw, riding the waves on rented canvas rafts, walking on the beach listening to the seagulls screams mingling with the joyous cries of children playing in the surf, smelling cotton candy and popcorn and salty air.

Going home meant listening to my parents laugh, watching them try to dance the shag and cut up with their friends from high school, getting up early to eat scrambled eggs and taste sweet coffee in my grandmother’s kitchen. It was listening to old stories about how things used to be. It was belonging somewhere.

Now I am 53 years old. I have lived my entire adult life back in, or near, my hometown. There is no one house that I can point to and say – that was my home. I have adopted the whole city as mine. Today, driving over the bridge and seeing my precious city still brings tears to my eyes.

I’m still happy to be home.

78 thoughts on “Going Home

    • this blog post gave me goosebumps too. when i lived in california and vegas and whenever i came home i always felt loved, comforted and all that mushy stuff. it always feels good being home especially when youre family is there. good home cooked meals, your old bed, and the old restaurants parks etc youd always love to visit

    • Wow that really got me. My home is far far away from this country where i am now. There isn’t a day that I forget about home. I miss the river, quietness, children laughing, my neighbors, and everything that involved Philippines. Life is very different there. I feel the most comfortable day when im there. But soon enough though after 3 long years, i will have the breath of my Home:)

    • That’s three for goosebumps – I still get that lump in my throat every time I get the first glimpse of home.

      Thanks for a lovely post, and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  1. Pingback: Signs in My City | When Ginger snaps…..

  2. Great post! It got me all warm inside. Jjust like you, when most people leave home to go on vacation. My vacation was to go home. After 5 years being away, I finally able to go back home this Spring – Indonesia. What you decribe about home is exactly how I feel – the story might be different but the message is there. Home is where the heart is. Thanks for this great post!

  3. What a lovely, lovely post Ms. Ginger (can you tell I’m Southern too? ;0). I lived in NC for two years and loved it. Sadly, I never made it to Whilmington. After reading your post, I certainly wish I had. Just couldn’t care out the time from Charlotte. Thank you for sharing some of your childhood with us. Glad to know there are still folks who had happy childhood memories that don’t involve an iPhone, iPad, or other i-somethings. Congrats on being FP!

  4. I know exactly how you feel about “going home” to the city your love. My parents moved around alot as well and there is no house to call home but when I cross over the Big Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge I know I am home! Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  5. My vacations always take me back home too. Living abroad and traveling back home for visits is wonderful. HOwever I do miss ole dear home. Great post! Love the word Home as well. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  6. Outstanding post here. I’m your complete opposite in that I never moved at all. One elementary school, one high school, one college. I only wish my career history were as stable. However, regardless of the distance to home it still bears the same meaning. I live 4.2 miles from the house I grew up in and that my parents still reside in and nothing is better than having a family day with my parents and my two older sisters and just talking and laughing and whatnot. Home does indeed conjure strong sentiments regardless of the distance. Thank you for sharing yours!

  7. I love this! I always wished for a place that felt like home to me. Growing up we moved about 20 times. None of the places we lived ever felt like home to me. When I got married, I moved to my husband’s hometown. I love it here–but I love many places. I’ve decided that my home has to be spread out because the people I love are spead out. I have many homes, many memories, and many places that bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for remiding me of them!

    And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!


  8. My parents both have the same home town so every time we visited for Christmas or Thanksgiving they said we were, “going home” too! I can totally relate to this story — especially about fighting with a sibling over who was using up too much of the back seat. All those years and we never learned to share very well. Thank you, on the other hand for sharing your story.

  9. As someone else who moved fairly frequently, I’m envious that you’ve managed to stick with the one place to call “home.” I’m still looking for a place like that. 🙂

  10. Clicking the heels of my sneakers and saying, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” — Dang it did not work. OK, gotta go to my storage unit and dig out those old ruby red shoes.



  11. I like your post very much. It’s very warm and nostalgic. We all need to return to the home of our childhood, even if we live there all life long. Your grandmama is fantastic, special greetings to her!

  12. I LIKE CALLIN’ NORTH CAROLINA HOME!!!Couldn’t have said it better myself!! Thanks hon! Very nice tribute to North Carolina! Native Lenoir, North Carolinian!!Congrats on FP!

  13. Very nice post! I love traveling but there really is no place like HOME! You said it! I also must say I’ve been to Wilmington & the surrounding area like Wrightsville Beach and I am just a little jealous that you get to call that home. my little family and I have had some of the best vacations ever there…I really, really love the beaches there and the hometown feel. Congrats on landing home!

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  15. I like your blog! For me, home is on lovely Amelia Island (Fernandina Beach). It is the one part of Florida, not yet destroyed by high rises and commercialism. We still have a rustic. old-style charm to our lovely Island town.

  16. What a sweet nostalgia inducing post. As an inter country adoptee, now in my 50’s, I still reflect on what n where my “home” is, as well as what constitutes home. I very much appreciate your certainty in knowing where your home is.

  17. Your story reminds me of the days when my parents piled us into the car to go visit Grandpa. He lived two states away in Michigan. The venture took my dad five to eight grueling hours to drive depending on how many flat tires he had along the way.
    Thanks for a wonderful memory, and a sincere story about “home.”

  18. Beautifully worded feelings,can easily relate to the closeness you feel towards your native town……breaking away from your roots is never rather not easy. Home is the pulse within our body, heart warming indeed !

  19. Beautifully expressed feelings, can easily relate to the closeness you feel towards your native town……breaking away from your roots is never rather not easy. Home is the pulse within our body, heart warming indeed !

  20. Ginger, I’m a Southern gal too. Just discovered Wilmington not long ago and thoroughly enjoyed its authentic Southern charm. I see you have that greatest of Southern gifts: You know how to tell a good story! Keep writing! You’ve got a knack for it. 😉

  21. The word home conjures up the warm feeling of security through nostalgia, doesn’t it? I crave change and variety too much to call one place home. Perhaps it is a reflection of my upbringing as the offspring of two doctors who moved frequently.

  22. This brings me back to memories of growing up and vacationing in Myrtle Beach at Pawley’s Island every year when I was a child. I always loved this trip. Although it was not home it felt like my summer home. My parents are gone now but they made great memories with my younger brother and I. Thanks

  23. Great post, thanks for sharing this and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Wilmington sounds like a wonderful place, and I do hope to visit someday. In fact I was obsessed with getting there about 10 years ago, while Dawson’s Creek was being filmed there. I really, truly believed that I would meet Katie Holmes somewhere in town and she’d fall madly in love with me. Unfortunately I never quite made it.

    You’re welcome, Tom!

  24. your experiences is a quite different from mine..
    I live in a china countryside,always peace…
    But I am tired of the school ,because its far from me.
    er…the studay pressure(压力) is so hard……

  25. Wilmington, isn’t it the place where Dawson Creek series took for shooting? ( I was a big fans of Dawson’s cs..) I also collect some wilmington waterfront pictures for my design research ( I was once studied architecture) .. remind me to my ‘hometown’ too, the-so-called-Indonesian-Venice: Banjarmasin

  26. Wilmington, isn’t it the place where Dawson Creek series took for shooting? ( I was a big fans of Dawson’s cs..) I was also collected some wilmington waterfront pictures for my design research ( I was once studied architecture) .. remind me to my ‘hometown’ too, the-so-called-Indonesian-Venice: Banjarmasin

  27. Hello,
    Beautifully expressed….brought a lump to my throat. I have moved a bit too …the last one being out of choice and I do now think of it as my home. Sometimes its important to recognize that the past is just that…the past and the present offers much to be grateful for.

  28. Pingback: Going Home (via When Ginger snaps…..) | waseemadsence

  29. This is so wonderful. I love “home”, too. I’m currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia, and my time to go home is coming up fast but the homesickness is currently being tempered by a mandatory trip to DC for a minor surgery. So, I’m feeling all kinds of “home” feelings, pondering all kinds of “home” ponderings, and am thankful for your post.
    And congrats on being freshly pressed!

  30. I completely understand where you’re coming from and how you’re feeling. I, too, go home on holiday. Like many people in this globalised world of ours, I was born and raised in one place and ended up living in another. I am happy where I am, but can’t help missing home and wanting to go back once in a while. I think it’s vital for each of us to return to return to where we’re from and recharge. Returning home helps me keep my emotional balance and mental sanity. Home is where you can be yourself, amongst your own.

    Great story, well done for being FP!

  31. There is no better place that home. But I have found a home elsewhere whenever I traveled. I left a part of me in those places, and through these experiences I have built my dream home.
    Sorry for my bad english. Your grandma is fantastic 🙂
    Luv from Italy,

  32. Pingback: Friday Fragments: Confusing Things | When Ginger snaps…..

  33. This is beautiful. I had a similar upbringing, 9 schools in 10 years before dropping out. My family was splintered and with the mama-papa shuffle, plus the fact that my mom never stayed in one place so long, I don’t have a single town, but there are two main one where I feel settled, Maryland and Virginia…right now living in Cali, want to go back East so bad!

    Thank you for sharing, I love love loved this and it’s so wonderful you have such a strong love for your home!!

  34. Pingback: Describing Wilmington, North Carolina | When Ginger snaps…..

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