June 26, 2013 Edition

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Leaving home is tough

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Until about three weeks ago, I had lived in the same house all my life. My old house is still there but it's not my home anymore.

Making the transition from living in Brookland to living in Walnut Ridge was tough. Friends and family are now further away, and it takes me nearly an hour to drive to church.

There is also the added responsibility of having my own house to maintain, bills to pay, groceries to buy and meals to prepare.

It certainly shows me how good I had it with my parents. But it was time to move on and I am enjoying the new house that I alone choose how to arrange and decorate.

Yet there are times when I become truly homesick. I'm used to living in a house with my parents and many pets that kept me company. Now I live by myself with no pets in a new town.

The people that I've met here are helping me through the transition and each day it gets easier.

It hasn't taken long for me to recognize the hospitality in the towns across Lawrence County. I've been welcomed in with open arms and smiling faces.

It's wonderful to see how invested people are in their community, and as I've met, interviewed and written about several of you, I've learned just how blessed I am to live in this area.

I recently met A.G. Corbett, a man who just turned 100, and still drives to church to attend service.

Hillcrest High School welcomed me to their campus. I was happy to see excited they are about the future of their school and the students who attend there.

I've also visited with Robert Shelton, a man who circulated a petition across Portia to get plans for the highway widening changed. This will prevent several Portia businesses from having to close and keep families from losing property.

Last week, I watched Delois Jones pull levees out in the rice fields. Jones is 86 and she cans enough produce to feed an army. She gets the fruit and vegetables from the one-acre garden she grows. I believe she does more in a day than I do in a week.

This week I met Portia Mayor Jerry Sienknecht and we discussed how much everybody here cares for one another, and shows support for each other. Mayor Sienknecht has scheduled several local performers to play at the Portia Picnic this week. I know that the citizens of Portia will be there to support them.

As I make connections with people in Walnut Ridge and the surrounding area, I feel the same care and support, and that makes me less homesick.

I would be lying if I say I don't miss my old town, my old house and my old room, which my parents are enjoying redecorating, but I'm feeling more at home everyday.

Thanks to everyone in the community for making me feel so welcome.

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