I will never forget our first trip back home after we moved to South Carolina. We had been away for nearly a year, and I was so excited to visit our old stomping grounds to see what had changed in that time.
In fact, nothing had. There were some construction projects I was eager to see progress on, new housing developments, and even some home improvement projects that just seemed to be put on pause after we left.
In that same week, 800 miles to the south in Fort Mill, a lot of things had changed. Construction on new roads had begun, houses in our neighborhood went from foundations to full frames with windows, and an old shopping center had been torn down.
It’s no secret that things have been changing quickly around Fort Mill.
For me, October is always a special time of year. Fall weather, World Series baseball and most importantly, my birthday falls in the middle of the month. This year wasn’t a milestone. But, as I have written in the past, my wife and I will use any excuse to throw a party.
So we did.
And what a party: great barbeque, lots of good beer, mediocre guitar playing, scuba masks, bicycle helmets, zebra heads and a whole lot of recycling the following week.
Sunday was rough.
About halfway through the party, an odd question came to me: Who were all these people? Our house was filled with almost 60 people, and it suddenly struck me that I had known all of them for fewer than two years, some fewer than two months. And yet, we partied and carried on like it was a college reunion and we had all known each other for decades. In that moment, it was truly magical and an honest blessing to be surrounded by so many people whose company I enjoy so immensely.
But more importantly, it reminded me of our first weeks and months in Fort Mill and how utopian it all seemed. It struck me that, once again, we are all in this together. In the short time we have lived here, we have made many friends, lost a couple, gained a few more. But that is to be expected with the constant ebb and flow of a transient town. That doesn’t make it a bad place, nor should it harden its residents.
There are likely quite a few people who are reading this column for the first time. I will say what I have said many, many times to fellow transplants: Welcome! You have made a very good choice. Make Fort Mill your home. Learn the town, the people and the culture. More importantly, learn the struggles that we as a town are facing.
This town is changing constantly, and there are a lot of headaches that have come with the growth. But truly, my friends and neighbors, we are all in it together.
Jim Donohue: firstname.lastname@example.org