birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Hometowns

Jeffersonville, Indiana, my original hometown, stretches along the Ohio River across from Louisville, Kentucky. For me it was a family town. Both sets of my grandparents, two sets of uncles and aunts along with three cousins who stair-stepped with my two brothers and me lived there. My father and one uncle were law partners and real estate developers. My other uncle was a local dentist and later an orthodontist. One grandfather owned a factory, Sunfire Stoker; the other was a lawyer, realtor and former county office holder.
I grew up surrounded by family and believing that everywhere I went people knew who I was. I It was a source of comfort to know how I fit into that world even though I once got in trouble when someone called my mother and told her I had been seen crossing the highway adjacent to Lincoln Heights, our neighborhood where all my Prentice relatives lived. Later when I was in my teens, my mother’s frequent refrain was, “What will people think,” clearly implying that my behavior –or misbehavior—would reflect on my entire family.

I left Jeffersonville at age 18 when I began college. Except for a few holiday visits, I never lived there again. The intervening years have witnessed the gradual exodus of my family from that river town. First my brothers and two of my cousins left for education and career moves. Then the grandparents died. My parents moved to Indianapolis when my father became a State Supreme Court Judge, and later to Tucson Arizona to live closer to me in the winter months when I was there. As the years passed, my uncles and aunts died and by 2010 I had only one family member left in my hometown, my cousin Mary. When she died of Lung cancer at age 65, my last family tie to that place was gone.
More recently that cycle has repeated itself as we have gradually lost friends and family in the small Ohio town where we lived for more than 45 years. First my children left for education and career. Then my husband’s parents died. Finally one set of friends after another moved away, doctors retired, law partners died or retired to far-away places. We ourselves began to spend half our time in the sunbelt state of Arizona. Eventually I no longer felt at home in either my original or my adopted hometown.
A somewhat legalistic definition of hometown is the place where one grows up. A more nuanced and emotional description is that a hometown is a place where one is surrounded by friends or family and feels “at home.”
Recently I moved again, this time to Easton, Maryland to be closer to a daughter. I will continue to spend five or six months a year in Tucson where my brother and many friends live. I hope I will soon be able to call both places my new hometowns.
 

Oaktown

Home Is Where The Heart Is