Last year was interesting, joyful, heartbreaking, surprising and life-changing. Looking back, I should have been prepared for a wild year, but I walked into 2019 with blind faith that it would, somehow, be a good year. Despite a few ups and downs, I think I can say it was one for the books, at least for my family.
Perhaps the most monumental event of 2019 for me was purchasing my first home with my husband. We’ve been together for 11 years, and for the better part of our married years, we’ve lived in my husband’s grandmother’s home in Guntown, Mississippi. At the beginning of 2019, we never would have guessed that by September we would be purchasing and moving into a new home in Tupelo.
You see, as Mama Gay’s aging home grows older, it comes with more problems. Some of those problems were just too expensive for our budget and we were really outgrowing the home anyway.
Around spring, my husband and I started weighing our options. Did we want to find temporary housing and completely renovate Mama Gay’s home — which we still loved dearly? Did we want to try to build a house? Where would we buy or build a home?
We ruled out renovating the home we were in, as well as building a new one pretty quickly for a few reasons. We didn’t want to figure out temporary housing and we also didn’t want to deal with the hassle of construction. So we decided to start looking for a home to buy.
At first, we just assumed that we would stick around the Saltillo / Guntown area because our son was in school there and finally thriving after having a difficult time at his previous school. He has autism and dyslexia, and we’ve seen firsthand what being in the wrong environment can do to a child with special needs and learning disabilities, so we weren’t too eager to pull him out of his school.
But we had difficulty finding a good home in our budget that wasn’t in a flood zone, so we started thinking about the other surrounding towns. We knew that we had to stay close by in the area, since neither my husband nor I planned to change jobs.
My first choice was Tupelo, particularly East Tupelo. I had lived there in my early twenties and had always wanted to move back to the area. I felt a special connection to it because I lived here as an infant and my dad’s family is from the Eastside. However, my husband is from Baldwyn and it took some convincing to get him to consider leaving the country for city life — but when he saw how many homes were available in our price range, he opened his mind to the possibility.
Now, everybody has their preferences on faith, and to each his own, but I’m a believer and the praying type. When I find myself faced with a difficult decision, I bring it to the Lord. So I began praying about where the Lord thought we should have a house.
In the meantime, we spent hours on the weekends driving all over Lee county looking for homes for sale and checking out houses we’ve seen online and usually coming up with nada. We also weighed the pros and cons of what it would be like to live in each community around the Lee county area.
After weighing the pros and cons of each little town and the county, we realized it wasn’t really helping our decision. So we started making a list of what we wanted out of the town that we lived in instead.
We wanted great schools, a community that constantly offers things to do for the entire family, a town on the move that loves progress but doesn’t forget tradition.
We wanted a unique, thriving town, one that celebrated many walks of life. We wanted access to entertainment, art, and local color. We wanted our kids to have access to the best schools in the area. We wanted a city that promoted healthy living for the whole family with walkable streets and nearby parks.
Most importantly, my husband and I wanted a town we both felt truly connected to — and when it came down to it, Tupelo fit the bill.
The best part? We found a home that hit all of our needs (and a good bit of our wants) in the exact area I wanted, just down the road a piece from the birthplace of the King.
Life in Tupelo hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been pretty good so far. Sure, life’s thrown us some curveballs. But we’ve also had some truly beautiful times together in the short time we’ve been here.
Since we’ve moved here, we’ve listened to live music downtown, played on the playground, walked around Veterans’ Park, celebrated our first holiday season in our new home, rang in the new year with fireworks, a ball drop, and music at Fairpark, strolled through the Christmas lights at Ballard Park, and enjoyed many car rides throughout the town sharing stories of Elvis and other histories of Tupelo.
We’re just five months in, and Tupelo is already reshaping our lives. And as we settle into our first full year of living here, I’m more excited than ever about our choice to move back “home.”