It seems you really can go home again

Published 1:48 pm Monday, October 24, 2016

“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Ed Pearce, a man who should be no stranger to Kentuckians after a legendary career at the Louisville Courier-Journal and also contributing to the Lexington Herald-Leader, nailed it when he wrote those words.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about that very first one — home — in recent weeks.

Merriam-Webster defines “home” as “the place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives; a family living together in one building, house, etc.; a place where something normally or naturally lives or is located.”

With all due respect to the smart people who write dictionaries, anyone who has ever been away from theirs knows this definition doesn’t even come close to embodying what home truly means.

I am not sure the words have even been invented to truly encapsulate it, but I will do my best. What does home mean to me?

In the simplest of terms, it is where I am meant to be; a feeling as much as a physical location. It is the idea that faith, fate and family have all intersected with circumstance, career and community to create the sense of belonging.

For my family and I, that is Winchester, Kentucky.

Yes, I know I grew up about 90 miles away in Ashland, lived for 10 years or so across the river in Ironton, Ohio, and then spent three years in Niles, Michigan.

Kentucky was always home.

I came of age in the Bluegrass state. It was here I made friendships that will last a lifetime. It was here I met Rae, my first and only true love and an amazing woman who has graciously been my wife for the past 12 years, through better and worse. It was here I watched my two beautiful daughters, Avery and Emma, come into this world, a miracle the likes of which I had never witnessed and have never seen since. It was here I have bled blue during the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat for decades.

Here in Kentucky, I am surrounded by people who sound like me, at least sometimes think like me and truly understand what it means to be from small-town America.

Coming to Winchester and Clark County has truly been like coming home.

The community has been great, offering a warm welcome that surpassed anything I could have imagined.

Local realtor Greg Wood and his wife graciously took Rae and I on a marathon 12-home tour, giving up even more of their Saturday to show us one of the popular dining options.

I have been overwhelmed by the hospitality at the Hampton Inn, as well as that of the owners/operators at dozen or so restaurants including Cairn Coffee House, Maddy’s Café On Main, The Engine House, Gaunce’s Deli, Grace Coffee Cafe & Bakery and Hall’s on the River.

I appreciate all the citizens who have shared their time, stories and memories with me, offering amazing insight into what Winchester means to them. I look forward to hearing so much more.

The staff at the Sun has been excellent and I am truly looking forward to working with each of them. As a team, I am confident that we can build a newspaper that showcases the greatness of Winchester and Clark county, publications of which everyone can truly be proud to call their own.

You’ll hear a lot more about my vision of a community newspaper’s role in the weeks to come, but today was all about home.

Since I started with a quote, it seems only fitting to end with one.

Thomas Wolfe wrote, in the appropriately titled novel “You Can’t Go Home Again,” that “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of time and memory.”

I respectfully disagree. This sure feels like coming home to me.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.