I recently spent three weeks visiting my parents in my hometown of Charleston, SC. The first week I was home, I felt homesick for Denver. Everywhere I went, I faced layers of memories. This is the place of my past, I thought. This was the home of Kristina Cooper, not Kristina Atkins. I’ve grown so much since I last lived there, twelve years ago. I’ve been through so much, faced my demons, gotten to know myself better. I’ve been married, become a mom, earned degrees and written books. I’m not the same person who lived in Charleston.
And yet … it didn’t take long to sink back into the rhythm of the South. To remember how to sit still, embracing the humidity instead of fighting it. To take slow bike rides under Spanish moss. To watch my children enjoying the freedom of the beach. To listen to the cicadas sing and simply be. I can make new memories here, I thought. And I did. I watched my children dig in sand and chase seagulls. They played in pluff mud and caught lizards. I biked with my husband along the Battery, took a turn down Market Street, and bought pralines. I remembered the beauty of slow living.
We’re not moving back. Our lives are here in Denver, and I love it here. But Charleston will always be a part of me. Every place you live leaves an imprint on your soul, but nothing compares to the mark left by your hometown. I’m forever grateful to call Charleston my home.