Take me home

Last week I was up at McDonald’s in Lacey sipping my dollar drink and watching my children run around. After a few moments I struck up a conversation with a lovely mom sitting at the next table. We were fast friends in no time.

After conversing for a while, I mentioned that while my husband and I are currently living down in Utah for a few more minutes, I’m originally from Elma and in fact we have every intention of returning there once our time in Germany expires. We recently bought ten heavenly acres to prove it.

She laughed and wrinkled her nose. “You’re from Elma? Really? That’s funny!” She said it like Elma was the joke of the outcast list.

I grew up in Elma. There was a time when the only thing I wanted in life was to fly away and never return. The world was big and needed exploring, and I was determined to be the one to do it.

In the past fifteen years I have never been back for more than a visit. Through college and marriage I’ve lived in the west, on the east coast, traveled and studied in both the middle east and Europe, and seen a nice little selection of life outside this valley.

In three weeks I’m shipping my babies off to Germany for a few years of foreign living. But I can tell you right now, as exciting as this new adventure sounds, there’s only one place my husband and I would really like to be right now and that is here in Elma.

We came home two weeks ago for our last hurrah before the move. Every day we look at each other and wonder, “Why in the world do we want to leave here and traipse half way around the world?” There is no place more beautiful (to us), more perfectly located (to us), or more full of opportunity (for us). We’d like nothing better than to build a house on our property, buy a few pigs and put out a mail box.

Elma feels like home again. We haven’t even set foot in Germany yet and I’m already homesick.

I’m going to miss driving over the viaducts in town. I’ll miss Smitty’s, and El Ranchon (one of our favorite Mexican places ever). I’m going to miss swinging into the Health Club when I’m home, and driving by my high school.

I hate that my older boys will miss out on attending Satsop School–the educational world’s best kept secret–with all their cousins. I don’t care how good the DOD schools in Germany might be. How many public schools offer an education to rival a private institution? Three-day field trips to Canada and Oregon? Teachers and administration that know every single kid by name, their parents, their siblings, and what car the family drives?

I’m leaving my favorite hair place (Rochelle’s), my favorite chiropractor (Dr. Peterson, also my brother-in-law), and the best variety store the world has ever seen.

I love this town. More than that, after seeing a nice little chunnk of what’s out there, we choose this town. Elma is where we want to raise our children. When it comes time to put down roots, ours run deep and they run here.

So when that girl so casually assaulted all the things I value most in the world, I only had once response for her.

“You bet I’m from Elma, and if you knew what I knew about it, you’d want to be to.”


  1. But I’M not in Elma!

  2. Love this post. I feel the same way about my home. There are a lot of things others think are worthy of disdain, but it’s home. And I love it with my whole heart. I remember when we lived in Columbia, SC, we would make the two hour trip home into the mountains of NC frequently. (We had one baby at the time… a two hour road trip was a cakewalk) Anyway… half way home, you see the mountains for the first time, and every single time, I would get teary eyed. I love these mountains and have a hard time imagining raising my family anywhere else.

  3. I was at the Lacey McDonnalds yesterday too! Crazy world. I lived in Germany when I was a kid and ADORED It! My favorite place we ever lived. Aside from Washington that is.

  4. I love Rochelles to! El Ranchon is the best! I love being home right now. I really hope the military lets us stay a bit longer. We want to settle in this are but with 11 more years of military its not time to buy a house yet….. I loved reading this 🙂

  5. Are you building a guest house on those 10 acres? Sure hope so!

  6. I spent the majority of my life wishing to leave this valley where I live and yet when it came time to start parenting my teens, I couldn’t stand the thoughts of my kids being raised anywhere else but here.

    This is my home-home. And although I have traveled the world, and lived in exotic places, there is no place like Home-Home. It’s where your heart is.

  7. Love it.

  8. Jeannie says:

    Annie, would that happen to be Matthew Peterson, the chriopractor?? My husband’s cousin is a chiropractor up in Washington with that name…huh.,.,

    • annie valentine says:

      Yes it is!

      • Jeannie says:

        Small world!! That would make Kari your sister… haven’t seen them in ages and ages, but we just spent some time with Matthews mom Janet in April. Still can’t believe it’s such a small mormon world… should also add, I really enjoy your blog and check in randomly….

  9. Good for you!! (Coming from this Rochester Girl!!) I’ve sold a few homes out in your neck and yes it is a beautiful place to call home!