“Where are you from?” A normal question that comes up when you’re getting to know someone new. I was often in the position of getting to know new people and friends – I moved fourteen times between cities and homes by the age of twenty two. When I would get that question I never knew how to answer. Do you want to know where I was born? Where I spent the majority of my life? Where my family is? It’s a combination of the Southeast – born in Albany, Georgia, moved to Atlanta, then West Palm Beach, back to Georgia, Hilton Head Island, and lots of stops and homes in between. By the time my family settled in Greenville when I was in the ninth grade I was ready to stay a while. And we did. I went to Riverside High School, went off to College of Charleston and then moved back home a few years ago with my family still in town. So at the age of twenty seven when I get the question “So where are you from?”, it’s much easier and lighter on the heart to say, “Yeah, I’m from Greenville.” And anyone that follows that question with “Born and raised?” deserves a wrong answer. Stop being that person.
I cannot say enough about this town. I am so proud to say that I live here, that my family lives here, and we have no intentions of moving. I truly believe that Greenville, South Carolina is one of the best places to grow up and raise a family. I feel very blessed to have gone to high school here after a poor middle school experience. My classmates at Riverside were kind, Young Life was a strong part of who we were, and my memories are nothing but good. Ron and I are committed to making Greenville a better place to be with every development and each house flip.
But there is one place that holds an exponential place in my heart. When I was five, we moved from Florida to REYNOLDS ON LAKE OCONEE in Greensboro, Georgia. Maybe it was the beginning of my childhood memories that I can recount now, but I like to think that it really meant that much, and was every bit as wonderful as I remember. Reynolds was brand new when we moved, only a Texaco gas station marking the entrance to the community. Gatewood, our school, was thirty minutes away and so small that K-12 was all in two buildings. It was impossible to not know every kid. There was a bus that came to pick all of us up in the neighborhood, but my sister and I preferred to miss the bus on ‘accident’ so we could ride the jet ski over to Great Waters and catch the bus there. That fun ended when my mom became a kindergarten teacher at the same school. The highlight then became stopping at the Pizza Inn on the way home to get a personal pan pizza and Superman ice cream. Any Gatewood Gators feel me on that one?
All of our doctors, dentists, malls, etc. were either in Athens or Macon. We had to take a cooler to the grocery store so the meats would still be good when we got home. But the late afternoons tubing on the lake, running around on the fairway at sunset and the chicken fingers at the clubhouse made up for all of that. This golf community was a little slice of heaven tucked away off of some country roads.
When I married Ron, it was important for me to take him back, so for our first anniversary we made the short two and a half hour drive to Greensboro. Reynolds was a far cry from what it used to be with a Publix at one of the many new entrances, six golf courses, and a Ritz Carlton. Carrie Underwood also said ‘I do’ in the neighborhood. But all of the feels came back as soon as I went into the original gate, passed the clubhouse and pool where we used to have swim meets, and turned right onto Liberty Bluff to see the house that my parents had built. It was on the market, so I went up to the porch to peek in the windows. Nothing had changed. My mom’s black and white patterned wallpaper was still in the kitchen. Our dining room chandelier still hung in it’s place. My bedroom door was open, and the light was streaming in through the screened in porch. It was like God had kept it just as we had left it for me to return fourteen years later. I walked Ron down the rock path to the lake, and we sat on the dock where my sister and I had taken Christmas card photos. All of it was perfect. Just as I had remembered.
Our stay at the RITZ CARLTON was one of the best weekend getaways we have ever had. I can’t recall ever coming home more relaxed after a vacation. The staff was incredibly kind, the spa was incomparable, the food was amazing (Linger Longer Steakhouse gives you fresh spun cotton candy after dinner, I mean come on), and we ran into the WILLETT’S (who are the bomb) and caught them before they shot a wedding to grab some anniversary photos in my favorite place. It was perfect timing.
Cheers to the memories, to one year, and to heading back down those country roads real soon.