Lucky to get out

I grew up in a beautiful rural area. 

When I was 17-years-old and felt depressed or claustrophobic growing up in my rural home, I would go for a drive. I would drive past beautiful Amish and non-Amish farms. I would drive past little churches with tall steeples. I would cut through the valley where I lived and drive to the top of a scenic mountain. 

The area was pristine. In the spring and summer, the lush farms and mountains would rival the greenest Irish hillside. In the fall, when the corn and crops would come to harvest, the mountains and trees would come alive in bright yellow, red and orange. I still consider the area to be the prettiest area I’ve ever seen. Yes, I’ve traveled the country. New England is wonderful in the Fall, the Midwest has many different delights, the South is picturesque throughout the year, California is, well, California, but Central Pennsylvania, is unlike anything anything else in the world.

A lucky rabbit’s foot

Despite the beauty and closeness with nature, the focus on self-reliance, the simple values of the area, and the strong start the area gave me, I feel lucky to have gotten out. I dreamed of getting an education and had dreams that were bigger than the small valley where we lived.

Many friends stayed and found God. Some friends stayed and got hooked on amphetamines and harder drugs. Some folks stayed but lived in what one friend from the area used to call “Poverty with a View.” The idea being they would wake up to beautiful sunrises but needed to drive great distances for work, since good paying jobs were scarce. 

Others like me, moved and never came back. 

Wanting something more

I knew I needed to get away to make my dreams come true and to broaden my mind and thoughts about people and what is possible. I knew I would never fit into a big city, I still feel like an outcast sometimes in suburbia, but I also knew that I couldn’t stay. I probably will never lose the feeling of being a small-town kid.

For a while, it looked like I might never get away. I went to the big state school an hour away, still close enough that the powerful magnet from the area kept pulling me back. I even worked for two years in my hometown, but I felt the whole time like I was living out of a suitcase. I never wanted to get too comfortable.  

I soon moved to Northern Virginia and never looked back. Oh sure, years later, I moved back to Southeastern Pennsylvania, but I’ve never moved home-home. 

Why me?

I wonder sometimes how I was lucky, how I was able to break out of the small-town chains that were holding me. If I had stayed, I’m pretty sure I would have had to give up on my dreams. I wouldn’t have focused on my education. I wouldn’t be a writer today. I might have kept on the straight and narrow, but with my field of expertise, I would have had a long commute. I might have had to even change careers. 

Yes, I feel lucky.  

Oh, I could see returning one day in retirement, but definitely with different goals in mind: to enjoy the beauty and not to start a life. 

40 thoughts on “Lucky to get out

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    1. Thanks LA! I’m not sure what brought this piece on, where the idea came from, but I’m sure your posts contributed in a small way. Thank you. When you’ve written in the past about visiting museums or seeing shows or getting out in the city, I’m always reminded of my younger self and how I felt like I didn’t have those opportunities readily available.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I love the simpleness of the area. I miss it, especially in the early spring when everything is starting to blossom and in the fall, but I’m glad I got out too. A weird feeling. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I stayed. I still have family there, maybe when we’re a bit closer to retirement, I’ll return. Who knows?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Life with in mysterious ways but often as intended. What a great blessing you had Brian and retirement by that beautiful countryside does sound wonderful indeed!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. “Poverty with a view”…you said so much in just a few words there, Brian…and your thought about never going ‘home-home’? I get that. Wow…do I ever GET that. Thanks much for a beautiful bit of sharing from the heart! ❤❤❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, I’m glad it made sense! I really am. My original piece was probably a bit darker. For me, I needed to get out. For others, they can’t imagine leaving. I didn’t want to speak for them. I didn’t want to speak down about them either. When I was a kid, a lot of people made me question wanting to leave. I didn’t want to do that to others. It’s simply their choice. Yes, poverty with a view. I could have written more on that, but when I touched on that, it started getting a bit sadder, darker, but you know what I’m talking about there. And yes, I still consider it home-home, even though I haven’t lived there in 35 years. I’m asked if I would go back in retirement? Probably not, but who knows, I’m open to anything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep…I hear you. I feel like I found my own ‘escape hatch’ and never looked back. I’m glad you’ve got some scenic, fond memories. I could see how that would tug at the heart. Stunning descriptions, Brian! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Escape hatch! A great phrase, so full of meaning. I’m sure my desire to get out is marred some by tough times. Maybe if I hadn’t had them, I would have better memories and would have wanted to stay. Who knows? From a picturesque standpoint, it was awesome. Like you described, it does tug at the heart, feel like it gave me a great love of nature and the need to be near either mountains or water.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like that you tuned into you and your needs to make a different, broader way of life Brian. Not everyone, as you know, would have the courage to do that. I admire those who can step from what may be comfortable and known and into something bigger. It sounds like you were keenly aware what would be better for you. 🙂

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    1. I can’t pinpoint one reason. I just knew that I wanted to learn and grow. I didn’t like some of the close-mindedness that I saw, the “this is the way we’ve always done it mentality.” I’ve written about my mother leaving the Amish church. I’m sure there was some of that in me too. Who knows?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Really nice post, Brian. My mother made a similar personal journey. When you know there’s more “out there” and you want to be part of it and fulfill your potential, you need to go for it. And you have!

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  4. Being born a Virginia girl (although a southeast one) who later moved to Ohio, I can relate. Pennsylvania is gorgeous as is Virginia. We retired to North Carolina which shares my beloved Blue Ridge mountains without moving back ‘home’ for either of us. The people who stayed, led a very different life and grew up with very different ideas. I will always be 12 when I go back there, too, because those that remain only remember me that way. I will always be a bit of a wanderer I think. Even now, I get restless to stay still too long.


    1. Oh you’re so right Maggie. I have different ideas now. I’m not the same person that I was when I left. And yes, I get the wandering nature. When we joke about moving anywhere in retirement, we get strange looks, but we really do mean it. We’re in Southeastern PA now, but there’s nothing holding us here. Why not?

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  5. Isn’t it fascinating how connections to our hometown can feel like chains? No matter how much we desire to leave, it always seems to be such a challenge. I’m glad that you were able to leave and go pursue your dream in another place that have more opportunity for growth and success.

    You’re post has made me think of my own hometown, which grow from a population of 5k to 200k between the time I was born and left for college. The “big-ish city” came to me, replacing cows and hay farms with homes, grocery stores, and even a movie theater. I wonder now what influence that had on me…


    1. A few years ago, I was having lunch one day and it hit me that the number of people in the building at the moment far outnumbered the number of people that resided in my small town growing up. And the building was even that big. Saying all that, I haven’t lived there in decades, but I still feel very much like a small town person. I’ve never lost that side of me. I’m not fearful of the big city, but I also know what I don’t know, so to speak. And yes, it is funny how the ties for some feel like chains. For others, it’s a good thing. For me, I needed to get out.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this Brian. Living and growing up in one place is not something I can relate to. I was a navy brat, moving about constantly until I was 9 or 10. We attend primary school until we’re 11, I went to 5 different schools. I think I was the opposite, I yearned for roots and stability. My dad would get a new posting every 18 months or so. I think we might always look at alternative lifestyles and think they might just be better

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  7. I often wonder, Brian, if the memories we hold of a place are still the same when we return some years later. I was born in a coastal town, moved to a city, then to the countryside and now looking to move back to a coastal (albeit different to the one I grew up in). Perhaps in retirement we look for the simplicity our childhood brought. The area you were brought up in looks beautiful and easy to see how it still connects with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bravo Brian! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Somehow, your story almost parallels mine. I was hungry to step outside the confines of comfort. I too think today about how different my life would have probably looked if I didn’t take a leap of faith. I agree with you, had you not broken out of the chains that was holding you back, you would still be chained to the unchangeable. Great thoughts of transformation and continued learning my friend. 🌞🙏🏼🥳🦋🥰

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      1. I concur with everything you said Brian. When you know you gotta go…then get up and get to steppin’. You are so very welcome and I applaud your strength and courage! 👏🏼💖👏🏼 I hope others are inspired by your many stories about life and living! 🥰

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I grew up in rural Ohio and now I live in California, which is, well, California. 😉 I do miss the countryside a great deal, but I just don’t miss the cold dreary winter days. I don’t think I could ever move back.

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