I remember when my family moved here. It was the summer before 4th grade. My oldest sister was starting college at the University of Alabama, and my middle sister was about to start her first year of high school, where she knew not a soul! I remember when people would ask my older sisters, "Where are you from?" There was always a weird look, like, "How do I answer this?" Then, there would be a lengthy explanation, something like, "Well, everywhere. My dad was in the Marine Corps, so we have lived..." I remember asking when I was really young, "When someone asks me where I'm from, does that mean the last place we lived?" You see, Tuscaloosa, it seems crazy to me now, but even the concept of a "hometown" didn't make sense to my little military brat mind. Now, it seems tragic that so many children grow up not having what you gave me. I really was "born and raised" here, though my family took a little detour to California, Virginia, and Hawaii, all by the time I was eight. We came here when my dad retired from the Marines, and you have been "where I'm from" ever since.
So, I am writing to thank you. You are the town that houses pretty much all of my important memories. You keep my memories from childhood in Duncanville, memories from my picture perfect high school years, my (sometimes fuzzy if we're honest) memories from four years of college at the University of Alabama, five years worth of memories from the start of my teaching career, memories of my first date with my husband, memories of our wedding in downtown Northport, memories of DCH, where we waited and watched the arrivals of my nieces and nephews, and precious memories of time spent with my grandfather and great-grandfather, who both also called you "home." I know you will keep these memories safe for me while I am gone.
When I think of you, certain things come to mind, things only a T-town native could appreciate. When I think of you, I think of Alabama Football, of course (Roll Tide), Taco Casa, flippin' HOT weather, the April 27th tornado that ripped through the middle of you and took so many of your citizens' lives, our hometown heroes (or mine at least): James Spann, Walt Maddox, Wild Bill (from 98.1 WTXT) and Nick Saban, patriotism, fear of The Lord, southern hospitality, the historic homes on Queen City Avenue, Dickens Downtown at Christmas in Northport, Summer Snow, Hokkaido, Krispy Kreme (Man, it was tough without those three after the tornado!), everything houndstooth, family, and, most of all, I think of HOME.
Any time I travel, I always get that feeling when I come driving back to you. As soon as I can smell that Tuscaloosa air, it's like a peace comes over me. There truly is "no place like home." It's strange to think I won't get that feeling when I come back anymore because you really won't be my home, at least not in the literal sense. My actual home will be somewhere else while my husband serves in the Army. Well, there may be a roof over my head in Colorado Springs for a while, and who knows where after that! But, I will always be able to answer the question, "Where are you from?" and for that, Tuscaloosa, I thank you. Roll Tide!