Friday, January 3, 2014

You Can Never Go Home Again

We traveled back to the South Carolina Lowcountry where we had previously lived for 34 years.  We had an opportunity to visit with our former neighbors and see that our sweet little house still looked the same from the outside. We had lunch with a few of my colleagues and drove around town, commenting on all of the changes. 

Some of the changes are good. The town of Bluffton, long known as an artist's mecca, has become a delightful 'walk-about' town with numerous galleries representing many local artists. There are a number of wonderful restaurants tucked here and there, and although growth is evident, the new buildings reflect the Southern heritage of the town. I caught myself thinking, "This would be a fun place to live!" Then remembered, I used to lived here! 

Scenes from Bluffton
(thanks to Google)
"The Store"
offering an eclectic mix of wonderful objets d'art

Jacob Preston
The towns tallest potter

Seven Oaks
One of several antebellum houses on the main street
(At one point we lived next to this home)

One of the art galleries in the old town area

As we drove away from the town center, and got caught in snarled traffic, I recalled why we left the community we had called "home" for so long. The growth of the town remains unchecked. What once was a sleepy community of 1 square mile with 500 residents, all of whom knew each other, is now one of the largest and fastest growing towns in the south. Wikipedia reports that the town grew 882% according to census data from 2000 to 2010. Wow!

The pink and brownish area is the Bluffton of today. Inside the green circle is the original "Old Town". When we moved to the old town, most of the surrounding area consisted of farmland or forests. When we moved into the area we had a few markets, two gas stations, a barber shop and a liquor store. All other shopping involved a trip to larger communities 30 miles away.  Now one can drop money at just about every major retail chain right in town. If you don't feel like paying full retail, why, you have two large outlet plazas to visit. The town has just about everything a person could want. There is a beautiful new library. There are several brand spanking new schools, with more in the planning stages. There are churches. And opportunities for recreation. And brand new housing developments. And housing developments with new phases of construction. And new townhouses. And new gas stations - we counted seven on the roads we traversed - I'm sure there are more. The community we once called home has everything anyone could want. But, we didn't want that. We missed the real sense of community. We missed driving down the road and waving left and right to friends sharing the highway. We missed getting delayed in the grocery store because we ran into so many people and had to catch up on what was going on in their lives. (I used to say that I had the best parent-teacher conferences in the vegetable aisle!) We missed stopping by the post office, again, running into many friends. Now, it is odd to bump into someone you actually know. I find that sad. But, you can't go back. It can't be undone. It's best, in my mind, to have great memories and move on.


  1. It sure looks and sounds wonderful to me!

  2. Times change...but the memories are still ours. Sometimes I think the memories seem better than they actually were. :)

  3. Thank God for memories. The town I grew up in is beautiful, but huge. I much prefer my memories of it when it was still a small town - far too small to even have a highway exit sign. Now there are four marked exits :( We went from just a few thousand people when I was born to almost 200,000. Breaks my heart.

  4. This is happening in our town too, but it had begun way before we arrived and since we live in the country, 15 miles away, I don't feel the loss so much. It is amazing though if I think about it, Home Depot arrived, Big 5, and now maybe Walmart, it's in the courts again, but I'm sure they will be here some day. I never heard of Bluffton, but it sounds like you had a wonderful life there for a long time and that's something at least.


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