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Moving On and Leaving One’s Hometown

By Keith Spencer

After living in a community for nearly twenty-seven years, it was a frightening endeavor to make the decision to move on and leave my hometown last spring. Leaving such familiar surroundings that felt so exclusive and intimate seemed truly unthinkable.

I saw greener pastures just seven miles north. An opportunity to begin that new chapter of my life so many people said awaited me. While many would think a move of such close proximity would not be difficult, my connection and pride for the City of Everett runs deep.

Not only had my family lived, worked, and employed other residents of the community beginning in the 1930’s, I started working as an educator in the Everett Public Schools alongside my sister in 2006. At the same time, I was also documenting everything and everyone that I thought made the community unique as a freelance photojournalist.

As I continued to remain in the city, as I began to get a bit older, that feeling of being stuck in that same old space began to settle in. At one time, I truly thought that I would be happy just staying put where I had been raised.

Where I had learned and developed the “Everett edge” that eventually lead to an acknowledgement that this yearning to leave was actually okay.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was actually going to an area where so many others from Everett had migrated over the years. I would now have a new adventure, a new place to appreciate and explore as I had done for so many years in my hometown.

As I drive through various neighborhoods on my way to work, I recall hundreds of fond memories so deeply rooted here. As I peer out of my classroom windows, I look onto the business my grandfather opened in 1932 at the start of the Great Depression. It all bolsters my appreciation for all that I learned over the years as a result of being from this city.

I feel lucky that I continue to have a close bond with my hometown when so many others wish to flee and leave their roots behind them in a cloud of dust.

We remain closely connected, and my pride and love for Everett strengthens each and every day as I work with my students.

I hope to inspire and pass on an appreciation for everything Everett to this new generation. A generation like no other in the history of our city. A global generation destined to thrive and succeed in this global world.

Humans may be adaptive beings, and home may be where you make it, but the doctrine of hometown glory is simple. You don’t forget where you came from.

I never have, and I never will.

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