In January of 2008 I packed a uHaul and headed off to Memphis TN to take my first position in the ministry. Up to that point my ZIP code had always been 4029X, now it was going to be a totally different city, state, culture, and environment. Louisville had been home for 25 years, all I’d known, and had gotten to love my city. Memories of Freedom Hall, Waterfront Park, Bardstown Road, Qdoba, the Seminary Hill, running at Seneca Park, the restaurants on Frankfort Ave, going downtown, and being able to get anywhere in town in “about 20 minutes” were just that, memories.
I’ve gotten to come back to Louisville many times, in no small part because of deciding to continue my education at Southern Seminary. My dad and one of my sisters still live here, and there are still many friends here. But every time I come back something is different. Here’s an example.
I’m sitting at Starbucks on Bardstown Road. This used to be a Kingfish restaurant. In fact, the wall next to me is covered with remnants from the restaurant, including the smokestack and carnival lights for the sign. Across the street is a giant parking lot. It’s the old Showcase movie theater, which was torn down in the last couple years. My pediatrician’s office is just around the corner, and so is the Krispy Kreme we went to in order to “study” in college and seminary. The familiar and the foreign in one small area.
This is only the beginning of the changes, UofL looks nothing like it did when I graduated in 2004, my dad’s part of town has grown so much it takes so long to make a WalMart run, and with Pitino’s Palace downtown the landscape of the city skyline is very different. In some ways, it feels like I barely even know a city I dearly love. In other ways, she’s never changed. I’m all for change, development, growth, and redefining yourself. I’ve never been a “good ol’ days” kind of guy, in church life or in anything really. Change is good, development is good, redefining yourself is good. And it’s all good what’s happened to Louisville, even if the Watterson is still a mess, there’s always a wreck at “Hospital Curve,” they continue to spend money on bridge surveys only to find out the same thing every time, and I still get lost in Cherokee Park.
So is Louisville still home? If by “the place you pay your mortgage” then no, my home and my life is in Murray. We love it there, it has been such a rich blessing to be there. We have dug down deep roots and have loved and served alongside some wonderful people. But there is a longing every now and then when we don’t want pizza, cheap Mexican, or Asian food to be on Frankfort Ave and try out some of the local places like the Grape Leaf or Irish Rover or Java Brewing Company. Maybe I’m more wistful because I’m here in Louisville now and when I leave I’ll be glad to be away from the crazy drivers and I-65 traffic. Probably. But let me enjoy this, I’m home for a little while.