Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Blog: Kelly Gamble

Twitter should be considered an author's match making service. Not for dates (although I'm sure they occur, too), but for friendship with like minded people. Kelly and I met through the 140 character limit social networking site, and her friendship and writing expertise has helped me greatly. Hopefully she feels the same way about me. I asked Kelly to write a guest post and gave her creative freedom, and she wrote this, saying this is what my blog makes her think about. So enough about me, I give you Kelly....

'Home' is a Small Town in Kansas


Living in Las Vegas, where most of the people are 'imports' from somewhere else, a question that comes up a lot is 'Where are you from?' This has always been a difficult question for me, because I have lived in a lot of different places. I attended twenty-two different schools before I graduated from high school, and if I include college, I am currently enrolled in school number twenty-nine. Yes, it is amazing I have learned anything at all.

Moving so much as a child did have its advantages. When you are always the 'new kid' you have two choices: either live in a cocoon or learn to make friends quickly. My brothers and I were not much for cocoons, so we tended to follow the second path. As adults, we often joke that we can walk in a crowded room and between us, know everyone in a matter of minutes.

I'm not complaining about my childhood--it was what it was. But the thing I feel was most missing was that sense of 'home' we all develop. That sense of being 'from' a place in this world. The idea we 'belong' to a piece of land, or a community, and no matter how far we travel, there is always that place called Home.

I was born in a small town--Baxter Springs, Kansas. It sits in the southeast corner of the state, on the historic Route 66, just miles from the Missouri and Oklahoma state line. There is a large sign, just as you cross the Spring River leading into town that boasts 'the First Cowtown in Kansas'. I lived there until I was three and after moving, spent summers there at my grandparents house. I returned when I was twelve for three more years. It's quite a bit different from the other places I had lived as a child, being mostly a 'city' girl. And, as an adult, I have lived, again, in nothing but large cities. But it is this small town that I call home.

Why?

It is in this town that I lived the memories that most make me smile--and the ones that most haunt me. It is there I met friends that I have managed to keep my entire life--my 'childhood' friends. It is there I first swam in a creek, had my first crush and first learned to ride an old horse named 'Tex'. Although I am far from a country girl, I was comfortable there. It became 'my' place--the people, the schools, the river. And although I don't visit very often, I know it is the one place in this world I could go, cross that bridge and be welcomed.

I think in defining home, it isn't a matter of where you were born, or where you have lived the longest. I think it is the idea of where your mind goes when you are feeling sad--that comfort place. Where you are when you have a pleasant memory, where you have cried and laughed, loved and lost, made good choices and bad. It is where you have most lived, not based on time, but on experience. It is that place that may make you crazy at times, but you still know you can find your way to the Street Car Bridge and still know you can always find a friend.

So when someone I meet asks me 'Where are you from?', I have a standard response. I've been in Las Vegas for seventeen years, so I guess this is where I am now from. But 'home' is a small town in southeast Kansas.


Kelly Stone Gamble is a freelance writer and author of Ragtown, a historical novel set during the building of the Hoover Dam. Visit her blog or on twitter @KellySGamble

35 comments:

  1. Yay! The first Cow Town in Kansas! Of course I can totally relate to your post. Well, not the cowtown part as I am a child of the many shades of suburbia; but the moving all over the place part. I am not one for cocoons either, but occasionally it's nice to go there. I completely appreciate your writing, wit, humor and cyberfriendship. Here...have a cyberhug!

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  2. Love that you have a place to call home! And right off of Route 66 :-)

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  3. Cyberhugs! YAY! I'll take two! I grew up in a cow/cotton town. I can totally relate. Before that small town, my family did move around a lot. Parts of me wished my family would have moved and not stayed stagnant in the small town, but then I wouldn't have all these memories to share.

    By the way, I love Tex. What a great looking horse!

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  4. I want a cyberhug too!!!!!!!!!!! :) I crave hugs.

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  5. Cyberhugs all around! Krystal, Tex passed away about 5 years ago. I was lucky enough to find this picture of him on his owners facebook page and borrowed (lifted) it for this.

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  6. Wonderful post, Kelly. I spent my early childhood in a small town and then moved from place to place after that. Of course I can completely relate to your post.

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  7. Thanks, DC. Here's a cyberhug for you, and a banana.

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  8. Anonymous11/11/2011

    I am totally delighted with your blog Kelly ! It brought tears to my eyes, (lots of them) Not only did you share a piece of your love for life, and the things that you keep tucked in there tightly, You also shared a piece of my life too ! "Tex" would greatly be honored. This I know, because I knew My Tex ! Tons & Tons of Cyberhugs back to you :)

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  9. Aww, this is so sweet! You were Tex's owner? Thank you for stopping by to comment. I bet Kelly will be shedding tears next! Lots of cyberhugging going on today.

    :-)

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  10. Wow ... twenty-two schools! This made me appreciate the stability of growing up in the same home and attending school with the same kids K-12... Maybe you learned more than me by getting a variety of styles and places. You clearly learned to adapt wherever you land!

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  11. Kelly - just reading this post made me homesick. I am a California girl. I was born and raised in the same area and lived there for most of my life - until I moved to the UK to be with my English husband. I moved here almost 10 years ago, and although I am starting to feel like this is home (finally) it'll never be "home." I will always miss California.

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  12. Lovely post, Kelly. So sweet. But then I'm a sucker for anything involving a horse!

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  13. We kinda feel like home is where we live now and a lot of that is influenced the close proximity to 7-11 :) Great blog!

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  14. A very inspired Guest Post - and a hope that all those who are not Home or unable to find Home are able to discover and feel comfort in the images of Home that will always remain.

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  15. Anonymous (otherwise known as Carrie)-It was funny, after I wrote this, I went digging around your pictures and found Tex.
    Suzi-We moved here when my kids started school and I told my husband I would NOT move them, period. Now that they are raised, I'm ready to go!
    Julia-honestly, most horses don't like me (weird, I know) but Tex put up with me.

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  16. Moonduster-I think Home is supposed to be that place you miss.
    2girls-Funny, I had a 7-11 across the street from my house in Kansas, and Carrie, Tex's owner (above) ran it!
    Justin-That's it, Justin, it's the ability to feel comfort in the images of Home. It's a comfort place.

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  17. Kelly, I totally related to your post. I've moved a lot too, and I have the hardest time with the "where are you from" question. Do I say where I was born, or all the places I've lived since? And since none of my family lives in most of the places I've lived, those places don't really feel like "home" to me either. Both of my parents live in places I've never lived before, so I feel like a bit of a misfit when everyone else is heading "home" for the holidays. Now that my kids are practically out the door, I've decided home is where my dog sleeps.

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  18. Erica-I like that-'home is where my dog sleeps'. My son says 'home is where my Mom is'.

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  19. Wow, 22 schools...? I went to one primary school, one high school, and one university. I've had one job for the last 8 years. I lived in the same house for 22 years. Clearly I don't embrace that kind of change LOL. I can't imagine what it would be like to move around so much. I've moved 5 times in the last 8 years (not much comparatively) and facing our last move in the next few months for what I hope is a long time, and it has been too much!

    I think it's true to say though that 'home' is where we live most of our experiences and not our time. For me, they are both the same place, even though many of my friends have moved on from that town.

    I wonder, though, if that will change when my parents leave? It's also true to say home is where the heart is (or as you said Kelly, home is where mum is) and I don't know there'll be much of that left in my hometown when my parents pick up stumps. My hometown is a bit of an underdog though (not well regarded by most of Sydney based largely on ignorance) and I think I'll always be loyal to it at least.

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  20. After moving so much my entire life, staying in one place for the past 17 years has been a challenge for me. I'm very antsy now that the kids are gone and I need a change!

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  21. Love reading your post, Kelly. And meeting new friends!

    I lived a few places growing up (Florida, SoCal), but mostly went to school in Sacramento (6th grade on). It's my hometown, but I never loved it and couldn't wait to leave. Friends & family still there and I visit once a year, which is quite enough thank you.

    I've always felt a small town would be good for my kids. Picking up and moving to nowhere Kansas. Then I lie down til the feeling goes away.

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  22. It's good for kids in some ways, but not in others. My kids had a lot of opportunities in Las Vegas that they would have never had in a small town, and they took advantage of those. But, they never learned to fish, either. :)

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  23. Hey, I've been to Baxter Springs! Several of my friends from college grew up in Riverton, so I'm very familiar with the area.

    I'm from a small town in southwest Kansas called Haviland. Haviland has about 600 people, plus a small Bible college. It's just 10 miles from Greensburg, the town that was nearly wiped off the map by the tornado four years ago. It's greatest claim to fame is the discovery of several rare meteorites on the surrounding farms.

    Small, out of the way, not a Starbucks in sight, and not much to do on a Friday night... but it's still home, even though I haven't been there in 10 years.

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  24. (Does knuckle-bump w/a fellow gypsy)

    I tell people I'm from Iowa if they keep pushing in the conversation even though that was 3rd-8th grade only. It's where I know I've got a place to rest my head if ever the need arises.
    Well, there and Texas. ;)

    Great guest post as ALWAYS Kelly. :D

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  25. Nancy-I have friends in Riverton, too! Home of the world famous Spring River Inn. lol
    Zen-exactly, a place to rest my head if ever the need arises.
    thanks, ladies!

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  26. I also grew up in a cowtown but have always felt I come from many places. Mostly Maine, I suppose, but half my genes and parenting comes from South Carolina, where I was born. I've lived in a lot of places and they all left their marks.

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  27. I've lived within 30 minutes of where I sit my entire life (34+ years). I've traveled extensively, but I can't imagine living anywhere else. :c)

    This is a lovely, warm-and-fuzzy piece. Thanks for sharing it!

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  28. Kelly I really enjoyed your post! 22 schools huh? I can almost compete with that lol 13 schools - just for elementary! :P Anywho I know exactly how you feel about "home." Moving a lot you sure hone in on your people skills but at the same time you just want that solid place that grounds you - home sweet home. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing!

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  29. Anonymous11/12/2011

    Love it Kelly!!! You did a wonderful job of sharing your thoughts of the place we both call home......(((HUGS to YOU))) from Oklahoma.
    Belinda Cramer-Bledsoe

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  30. Rob-SC? I lived there too.
    Sarah-Honestly, I would love to have lived in the same place forever and traveled extensively. Instead, I traveled and just moved there. :)
    Connie-It's amazing we are such well adjusted adults after moving so much, isn't it?
    Belinda-Hugs-I've really been missing home lately.

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  31. Really enjoyed this guest post, Krystal and Kelly. I agree, home is where your mind goes when you are feeling sad; or where the heart is. A great many of my experiences are in my home town, but my heart lingers not there. Not since my family is no longer with me. I no longer feel any great desire to return there. Home is now where I am currently, with the family I have created. This is where my heart dwells. I have moved 14 times, each with a unique experience that I am thankful for.

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  32. Wonderful post, Kelly! I also moved quite a bit as a child. Unlike you and your brother, I tended to be more introverted and cocoon-like after the age of eight (having attended three different schools by then). My parents did help create a home wherever we ended up, though. So to me, home is where your family is!

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  33. Debra and Raine-I always thought that when my parents and grandparents passed I would no longer feel the same connection. They are all gone now, and strangely, I do still feel it. I think I actually miss it more, because I know if I visited, it would remind me of my parents and grandparents, who I miss dearly.

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  34. Loved this post since my family moved a lot when I was growing up. I hate that question: "Where are you from?" Thanks for such a wonderful definition of home. I will for sure be thinking about it during the holidays

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  35. Thanks, Brandy. It's good to hear from all the others that moved around a lot as children. We could form our own band. :)

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