I've lived over half of my life a 12-hour drive from home. Rick and I moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1991. I was 24 years old, and we had been married just over a year. At the time, we thought we would be away from home for only a few years -- long enough to finish graduate school. Somehow, we settled into church life, work life, and community life, and 25 years later, we're still here in Kentucky.
This morning as I got ready, I contemplated spending half of my life so far away from our parents and our childhood and college friends. I realized that I live in two different worlds. The inhabitants of one world know the me who was once a little girl. They know that I always liked to sit on the front row in class because I loved school so much. They know that I like to ride my bike and I love cheese pizza. They know that I'm not very good at sports, I'm not fond of alcohol, and I took piano lessons for 10 years. They've eaten at my Mom's house, shared dorm rooms and apartments with me, and held my hand at family funerals.
The inhabitants of the other world have never known me before I was married; they know me as one half of "Rick and Kathy." They know a woman who loves working in the field of education, who likes to hang out at coffee shops, and who enjoys super hero movies. They have seen me perform in dinner theaters and skits at church (or performed with me). Most have never met my family, and certainly haven't met my high school and college friends. North Louisiana is a far away place to them, and the only images they have of that world are from "Duck Dynasty" and "Billy the Exterminator."
I feel as if the folks in each of those different worlds know me only half way. They either know the person who grew to 23 years old in Louisiana and got married, or they know the 24+ year old (49 this year!) who has been a school librarian and education consultant for 25 years in Kentucky. I am so grateful for the adventures Rick and I have had in Kentucky and the wonderful opportunities I've had in my career there. I love my Kentucky friends dearly, and will remain their friends for life. Yet, I envy those friends back in Louisiana who have stayed in our hometown and watched their own kids go to Greenacres Middle School and Airline High School, and then on to Louisiana Tech -- all my alma maters! I envy the time they've spent with their families and the positive influences they've been in our hometown. They've seen changes that I only get a glimpse of a few days a year when we visit.
I know I'm not that same little girl who grew up in Bossier City, Louisiana. I've grown and changed and become someone that I hope my family and friends are proud of. But who I am now is a combination of those first 24 years spent in Louisiana and the last 25 years spent in Kentucky. And I often wish that at least one person could have walked that journey with me from little girl to the woman I am now.