You Can Take the Girl Out Of Kentucky...

 HerKentucky is thrilled to welcome our newest contributor, my dear friend and college classmate Allie Townsend! Allie, a Henderson native and Transylvania alumna, lives in North Carolina with a houseful of boys -- her husband and college sweetheart Landy, their three amazing boys, and their sweet old dog. Allie gracefully juggles her roles as freelance writer and supermom while making sure her kids are wearing the right (Wildcat) shade of blue deep in the heart of ACC country. --HCW

Here I sit, a solid six years into my second stint in the heart of North Carolina. I am wondering, as I often do, whether I will ever feel that this place is home. I mean, shouldn’t I? I have spent nearly a fifth of my life here; I enjoy the mild weather and the mere glances I give to my heavy winter coat as it remains hanging in the closet; I love our close-knit neighborhood where we have made top-shelf friends; and should we ever move away, my first thought is that I cannot possibly bear to leave my gym. Shoot, y’all, I can arrive either at the beach or in the mountains within two hours. Despite all the benefits, the answer remains and always shall be: no, not really. Home, as they say, is where the heart is. And for us? Home is Kentucky.

Our family’s roots are firmly planted in western Kentucky, although we made our way all around the Commonwealth. I was born and raised in Henderson, my husband in Owensboro. Despite growing up only 30 minutes removed, we never crossed paths until I laid eyes on that sandy haired boy in Dr. Lyon’s Western Civ class at Transylvania University, way the heck back in 1993. There we learned that both my grandfather and Landy’s father were Middlesboro natives. We called Louisville home after graduation, and we bought our first house in St. Matthews when we were married in 1999. Two of our three boys were born at Baptist East in Louisville. Our little caboose baby will always be known as the only North Carolina native in the family, but he will have a heavy dose of Big Blue to help him learn that he is a Kentuckian at heart.

Speaking of Big Blue, we endeavor to raise Kentucky-loving kids right on Tobacco Road. We must contend with NC State, UNC, and Duke, all of which lie within a 45-minute drive from our home. Just kidding about Duke - nobody here likes them, either. I will have much to say about the tumult of living outside SEC country. Never did I think I would find myself commiserating with Gators or the Crimson Tide (The Pachyderms? I don't know.), but sure enough, here we are, acting as if nobody else is allowed to say a word against our sisters and brothers.

I might be the most chronically homesick girl you’ve ever known. Fortunately, there have been many occasions when Kentucky has reached out with a pat on the back and a, “There, there.” Last fall, as I was bustling between school and soccer practice, a truck stopped outside the house and a nice man came out to talk to us about our UK flag. Turns out? Our new friend, Scott Lay, knows half of the Phi Taus from my class at Transylvania. And now there he is, just living right behind us with his beautiful family! Our neighbor across the street? The super-sweet Emily Branscum Belanger, UK alumna from Somerset! A couple of doors down from them lives the family of former UK offensive lineman Kevin Disotelle. Just a few months ago, while attending a spa day to celebrate a friend’s birthday, I sat down with the one girl I didn’t yet know, the absolutely lovely Kari Kirby Shoaf, a proud UK graduate!

Oddly enough, the most comforting bit of home did not come from a Kentuckian at all. One of the first things I discovered about my neighbor and serious Tar Heel, Monica Kinton, was that her grandmother hailed from Hardin County. Of course, she didn’t tell me the county like you fine Kentuckians would, but she did say, “E-town,” so I knew she was legit. I practically swooned when she relayed to me that her grandmother pronounced “eggs” just like my own Hardin County born mother: “aigs.”  At that moment, I knew I would be just fine no matter my zip code.

After living here in beautiful North Carolina for so long, I could go on and on about all the things I really do love here. What I love most of all, though, is that Kentucky is everywhere, and thank goodness for that.