This week, for the third time in my life, I am packing up and leaving my hometown, Mattoon, Illinois. If breaking up is hard to do, cutting ties with my hometown has been even more difficult. I was born in this town at the old hospital. My dad and his sisters grew up here, so needless to say, my grandparents lived here. I was baptized here, and I learned to drive on these city streets. My first job was here at Kmart, one of the anchor stores of our mall. In 1991, I graduated from high school here. For 10 years, I worked here, and my parents and brothers still live here.
Each summer, Mattoon hosts Bagelfest, the world’s largest FREE bagel breakfast. (Maybe we should have our Motley Moms Retreat here one year. The festival is delightfully tacky, so it would give a whole new meaning to the term Motley.) We lived here when we were going through our infertility nightmare, and I began running to deal with the stress. I have so many great memories of early morning runs around Lytle Park and down Western Avenue. Lytle Park is home to our town’s swimming pool, which has a great kids’ play space, and it is beautifully landscaped. Western Avenue is lined with stately old homes and tall shade trees. Mattoon is also home to the ORIGINAL Burger King. They serve great thin fried hamburgers, and the guy who calls your order’s number has an instantly recognizable nasally way of saying “Forty-Four.” Even Alex can imamate him.
Mattoon is also home to my favorite pizza place in the whole entire world, Villa Pizza. When my friend Michelle moved to Texas, her family would freeze Villa pizzas to take to her, and I once drove home from Indiana to have Villa pizza on my birthday. It was totally worth the three hour drive. When I was in high school, my first date worked at Villa, and I think he still works there today. Tomorrow night, we will be eating Villa pizza for our last night in town.
Even though I have a great love for this town, I am certain I do not want to live here. I need to strike out on my own and live on my own terms. Maybe it is because I am a complex blend of an independent peacemaker. I want to do things my way, but I don’t want to ruffle any feathers while doing it. Maybe this just isn’t the place God has in mind for us. Whatever the reason, I will once again be leaving my town and my family. I think this time will be easier, and I really hope it sticks.
Exactly one year ago today, the three Carvers loaded our pets and the last of our possessions to move down to Florida. It was so sad to leave my family and friends, but we were filled with promise and excitement of a new adventure. God’s timing is so ironic. I would have never guessed our lives would be starting over again just one year later. This proves God has a sense of humor. I am looking forward to the new town and new possibilities, but thanks to my other Motley Moms, I don’t have to be so desperate to find friends. You girls were lifesavers when I landed the strange new world that is Florida. Thanks to your friendship that spans miles, I can always have girls close to my heart. I have learned so much from you, and I am looking forward to taking you with me on my next move! Maybe someday you will all decide to pile in a van and meet at my house. (I know it would take an act of God for such craziness, but stranger things have happened.)
So just like Willie Nelson and Charles Kuralt, this week, we will be on the road again. I look forward to sharing all of my motley-ness with you from the Pacific Northwest. OK, it’s not really the Pacific Northwest, but when you’ve spent the last winter in a tropical paradise, it might as well be.