A prom photo that I pulled out a few weeks ago brought back memories of an innocent and naive period of my life. It was a time of my transitioning from a teenager to a young adult. I knew very little of the world around me and of the world on a global scale. It was 1968 and a time of much change for not only me, but for everyone. As I reflect over the last 45 plus years, it is hard to believe so much has happened, and seemingly as though the prom was just yesterday.
Little did I know when that photo was taken, as to what was ahead of me. But, then, what does any 18-year-old know of what is ahead of him/her? I was full of determinations: to gain a college education, to be gainfully employed, to be able to take care of myself and to not be totally dependent on others. I succeeded in these areas, but with the help of my life partner, my husband of now 43 years, who played a big role in me being able to do so, as well as raising two wonderful children.
I chose to stay in my hometown where I hope to continue to live for as long as possible. I know that I will probably move to Charleston where my two grown children now live, but as long as I can do for myself and be able to drive, etc., I will stay in the house that has been my home for most of my adult life. I am the only one of my family here, but my home is home. One note here about my spouse: He is being affected by dementia. We are still together and I hope that we can still enjoy life together for quite some time to come. I take each day as it comes, never taking any one for granted. When I retired at being a couple of months shy of the age of 58, I did so at the urging of “a whisper from God,” and I am so thankful that I listened.
Nostalgia doesn’t keep me here as that the town has changed since I was a girl. Kingstree is a small town, and I still like the atmosphere of a small town. I haven’t traveled extensively, but one trip to the west of the US, made me realize just how much I appreciate and love the east coast. I cannot imagine not having green foliage and water around me. I cannot imagine being happy any where else. I also l like seeing familiar faces and exchanging greetings and snippets of conversation with the people who live here. When I do travel elsewhere, I am acutely aware of the feeling of being disconnected. It doesn’t unnerve me, but, I am so appreciative of the fact that in the community that I live in, there is a history shared with others. I like being a part of a small town community. I have never regretted staying in the area where I was raised. However, this little town has fallen into the same state of few job opportunities as seen with a myriad of other small towns across the United States. The social and political climates have shifted, and I feel, not for the better, either. There is where the nostalgia comes in: I do yearn for more of the life that I experienced during my youth. It was so much simpler, so much more hopeful. I yearn for what many people call “The American Dream.” It is hard for the younger generations to expect a sense of stability in earning a living, in buying a home, or to be able to expect to retire with a pension, etc. My generation may be the last to say that the majority have lived the traditional American Dream.