Real You: Hometown Memories

A friend of mine from my hometown of Upper Arlington, Ohio, asked me last summer if I would write my favorite memory of my time there. Hmmm. I was stumped. It took me until this fall to finally write the piece. Here's what I came up with. What's your favorite hometown memory?

It’s hard to sum up a favorite UA memory, at least it is for me. UA is the place I spent my formative years – from fourth grade at Burbank Elementary through graduation from Upper Arlington High School. It’s the place where all four of my children were born – and it’s the place where my husband was born and raised. It’s also, the place where my father-in-law started his business. There is so much here – so many layers of remembrance on every street, each shopping center, even in the smell of the air as the seasons change. UA is home. It’s family. It’s tradition and always will be in my heart, no matter where I am.

A place is its people. My best memory is of the spirit of Upper Arlington as embodied by its people during the Fourth of July. Our community spirit. Our American pride. The celebration of the next generation as the little kids bike past, and of generations before as the Veterans shuffle along. Soon after we had started our family we moved from downtown Columbus to – where else- Upper Arlington. We moved to Yorkshire Road and we stayed there, in two different homes, for almost 20 years.

One of my fondest memories are the years we spent as a street – the Yorkshire Road team - building the float for the Fourth of July. It brought us all together – kids and parents – as we labored away each afternoon and evening to create our rolling masterpiece. Finally, when the float was finished in the wee hours of the night, and the big morning arrived, we’d proudly don our Yorkshire Road shirts and march along the parade route, celebrating our accomplishment, celebrating being together as neighbors and as part of an amazing, spirited community. I loved those years.

Really, I loved all my years in UA. Sure, sometimes it was tough but like Middle School, whether at Jones or Hastings, you just get through it. All in all, there is no place better to raise a family. To raise kids who have strong values and community pride. My kids cherish their connection to Upper Arlington. My kids saw their grandfather celebrated as Grand Marshall of the same Fourth of July parade one year. How could they feel anything but connected to this amazing community?

UA is where my family of origin’s home burned down, and it’s where I chose to build the family of my own. UA is where my parents got divorced, and it’s where I got married to a UA native. UA is where I have made my closest friends for life, and it’s where I have lost friends who died too young. UA is a place where you can return to after you’ve left, and still feel at home.

UA is a special place because of its people. And if it’s your moment in time to live here – whether for a few years or for a lifetime – allow the spirit of the community to embrace you . Because like the fireworks in Northam Park on the Fourth of July, there is wonder and celebration in this place we call home.