This is Mosley High School. I have friends who graduated from Mosley. I am wearing a sport coat. My hair is combed. I have a breath mint in my mouth.

Lynn Haven, Florida—I’m about as close to home as I can get. Right now, I’m about to walk onto a stage and tell stories to a small auditorium.

This is Mosley High School. I have friends who graduated from Mosley. I am wearing a sport coat. My hair is combed. I have a breath mint in my mouth.

The reason I am here tonight is because…

Well, I don’t truly know why. I guess I’m here because there’s no place like home.

This town is practically in my backyard. Long ago, we used to come to Panama City to do grocery shopping, or for summer jobs. And, when I was a young man, any buck who was worth his salt would take his date to Panama City for dinner and a movie.

I live in the adjacent county, Walton County. And—it’s important that you know this—I live in a trailer. Just like my mother does. Just like a lot of people in our part of the world do.

The reason I tell you that is because I owe it to you to tell you that we are simple people who sometimes eat pimento cheese sandwiches for supper. And we are happy in our simple worlds—where front lawns don’t get mowed regularly.

This is home. I still fish the nearby Choctawhatchee Bay of my youth. My fishing hole in Hogtown Bayou, where the ashes of two good dogs are scattered.

A man backstage is tapping his watch and telling me it’s almost time to go on stage. I am nervous because I know many people in the audience.

The bluegrass band is playing before I go on. I peek through the curtains and see friends, family, and even an old boss who once fired me.

Earlier tonight, I met an old friend. I knew her long ago. We weren’t close, but we were acquaintances.

She grew up on the north side of the Choctawhatchee Bay. She got a good job and went to big places. For sixteen years, it was California, New York, London, France, Chicago, you name it.

A few years ago, her mother died. She came home for the funeral. And that’s when her life changed.

She stayed in her mother’s house, with her mother’s Golden Retriever. And she grieved. Not only for her mother, but for home.

And when she stood in a cemetery the Friday of her mother’s service, listening to the whine of a preacher, looking at moss in the oaks, hearing “Amazing Grace,” it changed her.

“It’s funny,” she said. “All I ever wanted to do was get as far away from this place as I could.

“But I was stupid, ‘cause there’s no place like home.”

I know how she feels.

When I was younger, I wanted to get away from this place so bad I could taste it. I wanted to spread my wings and be somebody.

I had dumb dreams. I wanted to write for a newspaper, or a magazine, or study music, or write novels. I don’t know what I wanted. I suppose I wanted to leave a mark on this planet. But I got hit with so many closed doors, my nose still hurts. And I lost heart.

For a long time, I believed that simple people like me weren’t built for wonderful things. After all, I failed the fifth grade, my father was dead, I didn’t attend high school, I was shy, redheaded, with big teeth, and I had dog hair on my clothes.

But I was wrong about me.

My life changed one summer day. I saw a man riding a bike. He was going to the same place I was going—the post office.

I knew this man. We went to church together. He was my father’s age. For years, I’d seen him in the back rows, every Sunday. He was happy. Really happy.

And if I had room to write more about him, I would tell you how his friendship changed me. I’d tell you about how this man was like a father, sort of. A guy who helped me learn to love a hometown I wanted to get away from. The tall pines, the bay of my youth, and the trailers.

But I’m almost out of words.

Anyway, I know this all sounds painfully cliche, but I guess what I’m trying to say is: my life has been changed by people who have loved me. Good people. The people in this audience. Right here. In Lynn Haven. Tonight.

I forgot where I was going with this.

Oh yeah. There’s no place like home.

31 comments

  1. M. Holmes - September 28, 2018 6:06 am

    Thank you, Sean, for bringing your talent to Mosley High School tonight and helping the Live Like Drew Foundation carry out its mission. I came all the way from Franklin, TN to hear you and I was truly blessed. You are an inspiration!

    Reply
  2. Jack Quanstrum - September 28, 2018 6:13 am

    Great read!

    Reply
  3. Sue Tait - September 28, 2018 6:52 am

    Dear, Sean,
    I have always envied people who had a “hometown”. I grew up travelling all over the country changing homes every 18 months – two years, I was a military service brat. I longed for a hometown my entire childhood, and I still miss having one (I’m 72 now), The closest thing I had were my grandparents’ homes. They were always in the same place, same little town, same house, and that is where my sense of stability was nurtured, and where my roots are. It isn’t the same as a real hometown, but I can pretty much rely on the people who are still there to remember me and know who I am, who I belong to, and that is comforting… So thank you for reminding me about hometowns, and making me remember that while I Don’t have a real one, I DO have a fairly good substitute for it…

    Reply
  4. Roxanne - September 28, 2018 10:18 am

    Amen.

    Reply
  5. Terri C Boykin - September 28, 2018 10:39 am

    Why just last week I had a pimiento cheese sandwich for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner every ding dang day. Oh my, think I’ll whip me up another batch! Sean Dietrich, you make my day with your words. Love you much.

    Reply
  6. Bill Jones - September 28, 2018 10:58 am

    I was at the show Sean. Great time. You ain’t half bad! Seriously, fantastic rapport and funny stuff. God bless

    Reply
  7. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - September 28, 2018 11:07 am

    It is wonderful to grow up having a “hometown” but then sometimes you truly “grow up” and realize home is where you find people who love and accept you. Sometimes that has very little to do with where you came from and where you live.

    Reply
    • Glenda - September 28, 2018 11:16 am

      Agree 100% with Nancy; and Sean I love you very much.

      Reply
  8. Brian Cardin - September 28, 2018 11:33 am

    Its the simple things in life that we truly remember…a summer breeze, a friendly gesture, a good dog nuzzling up to you in a duck blind on a cold day….Thanks for a brief reprise from the hurried, busy lives we lead. Reminds me of the John Denver lyrics…Hey its good to be back home again….As always, thanks for the inspiration Sean.

    Reply
  9. Grace Murdock - September 28, 2018 11:38 am

    Truth.

    Reply
  10. Kathy Wolfe - September 28, 2018 11:42 am

    I would like to know more about the bike rider. (Angels in disguise) I’ve had a few of them in my life also.

    Reply
  11. Frank Huggins - September 28, 2018 11:47 am

    Sean, just wondering if you’ve ever eaten at Sam’s Seafood Market in Lynn Haven. Best seafood in the area! It’s an old converted gas station and there is absolutely nothing fancy about it. When my GF and I visit PCB it is our preferred place to dine, and I use that word loosely!

    Reply
  12. Karen - September 28, 2018 11:55 am

    Ahhh, but Sean, you ARE leaving a mark on this planet. Your mark. And you are doing it by touching lives, one at a time. That is how you build relationships, a little at a time. Your words are reaching out to those who have lost heart, and you are giving them hope.
    I would also love to hear more stories about your friend on the bicycle. Teach us all how we can be mentors to others who may have lost heart.

    Reply
  13. Janet C Averett - September 28, 2018 11:59 am

    Sean it was so good to meet you last night . You are such an inspiration t so many. Keep it simple. Jan Averett

    Reply
  14. Joy - September 28, 2018 12:25 pm

    Sean, please write more on the man on the bike going to the post office….
    I love your writings and in my opinion, you are making a big difference of the people who read your posts…mainly me.
    I have always heard that ‘Home is where the Heart is’ and after living in many places I have found that to be true. You are right, there is no place like home!

    Reply
  15. Gordon - September 28, 2018 12:38 pm

    Yep Sean-There’s no place like home, which is Florala, Alabama for me. It’s small, but it’s special. Thanks for your reminder of “home”.

    Reply
  16. Jeffrey Pylant - September 28, 2018 12:39 pm

    TYPO here! I am nervous because know many people in the audience.

    Reply
  17. Janie's Jottings - September 28, 2018 1:05 pm

    Love this Sean! I have stayed in my hometown but it is right between 3 major theme parks. Every time we leave our home and venture out we see another piece of the place we love being turned into a housing development. Fighting the traffic is dangerous and nerve wracking. How we yearn for the home we once loved so much

    Reply
  18. Dana Dunnigan - September 28, 2018 1:34 pm

    Sean, we were blessed to see you last night at Mosley. Thank you for coming here. I love your daily blog, and share it with my family and friends each morning. So excited to have your books as well. We so enjoyed it, and you have given my niece, Jade, a love of reading again! Thank you for your inspiring words daily! Dennis, Dana, and Jade

    Reply
  19. Ann - September 28, 2018 1:41 pm

    I worked so hard to get away from my little “hometown” and move to the big city to be a part of “things” and see the world. Well, I’ve done that and now all I want is my mossy pines, lapping bay and sugar white sand of my childhood. Northwest Florida will always be home and I’ll be back for good one day.

    Reply
  20. Carol - September 28, 2018 1:53 pm

    Oh how I wish I could go back home, not exactly where I grew up , cause we moved south when I was seven and then moved somewhere it seemed like every year until I was 16, then I decided to stay put , get married and miss my home for some 60 yrs!
    That home was where I was born in Mass.
    Where my mom was from and my grandparents ,my great grand daddy who loved me and took me to the movies and bought me red cherries and hoodies ice cream with wooden sticks and called me “Choochie” and aunts and Uncles that were like big brothers and a big ole fun family!
    But now their all dead and gone , so I only go back home in my memories.
    I have children and grandchildren here , where I live but today they grow so far away so fast and don’t really want to spend time with the old folks no more!!
    I miss home , but one day I’ll see it all again in God’s good time!!
    Love ya !

    Reply
  21. Paul E Click - September 28, 2018 1:56 pm

    Mel Tillis sang a line, “when you’re young you want to get away, when you’re old you want to go back, and you spend your life replacing all the things you left behind.”
    He’s right!

    Reply
  22. Kay Keel - September 28, 2018 5:33 pm

    There’s nothing bad about a pimento cheese sandwich for supper…just sayin’. Pimento cheese, tomato, banana, peanut butter and jelly…those make some of the best sandwiches anywhere!

    Reply
  23. Susan Self - September 28, 2018 5:57 pm

    Home, that place that draws us back no matter how long we are gone.

    Reply
  24. Bill T - September 29, 2018 12:21 am

    Sean, Love your stories. I’m going to recommend a writer, if you haven’t already heard of him, Rick Bragg. I lived in Jacksonville, AL for about ten years and Rick was local. He went on to win a Pulitzer Pretty good for a guy from Possum Trot, AL.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Bragg.

    Reply
  25. that is jack - September 29, 2018 1:27 am

    Okay, I had to laugh. We loved living in trailers for many years, now we are upgraded to a motor home. WE are in a house for a couple weeks until we get our wheel estate back. But most of all me and my wife of 61 years just had pimento sandwiches for supper. My girl is still laughing. (Don’t get me wrong but I am not sure that is 61 or 62 years we have been married, but when she reads this, I dang sure will know! (Pray for me) 😉

    Reply
  26. Georgianne Slade Stillwell - September 29, 2018 5:48 am

    Sean, I was born and raised in Eufaula, Al., with an idyllic upbringing. After high school I foolishly got married and moved to Phenix City, Al. where I lived and raised a family. As I grew older, I came to realize that Eufaula is my home, lifelong friends are there, people know me there. I grew up in the First Methodist church, and they still know me there! Now, at 66 years young, I am going to move back to my home – they know me there. P.S. You should really visit Eufaula. You’ll love it!

    Reply
  27. Mary T - September 29, 2018 6:50 pm

    I was raised in the army so I have lived a lot of places and seen a lot of things. But for my children I wanted the stability of a hometown. We bought a home in 1966 and this is the only place our children lived until they left the nest. Barring the necessity of going to extended care, I will die in this house. Even though I was not born in this town, it is my hometown.

    Reply
  28. Alicia Humphreys - September 29, 2018 7:55 pm

    This. We can only hope we get to meet you one day.

    Reply
  29. Shelton Armour - October 1, 2018 5:05 pm

    There’s no place like home but I’ve been away for more than 30 years. My new place here in Jax, FL is home. MY friends and church are here. I still have a couple of friends and some family back home, but visiting is enough (except for my big brother). My dog is from here. So, I’m from FL now.

    Reply
  30. Al - October 7, 2018 7:34 pm

    The Destin of my childhood and teenage years is long gone. I’m not in the camp of complainers, though. Home is where my love is, because he’s the one who actually believes in me.

    God bless, Sean. I feel like we just missed knowing each other.

    Reply

Leave a Reply