IT FEELS LIKE HOME TO ME
by Julia Zwetolitz
Home is not just the concrete building. It is also where family is and the memories that occurred in each house. I have moved three times and got to experience many events with my family. I could not say that I could choose a favorite house or a favorite city.
212 Carter’s Grove Lane- 1997-2011
I spent fourteen years living in Carter’s Grove. It is a small neighborhood in Lynchburg, Virginia off of Boonsboro Road. There are only three streets. The main hill is Carter’s Grove Lane and there is also Jameson and Merewether which are cul de sac streets.
Our house sits at the bottom of Carter’s Grove Lane. It is a brick house with a pineapple mailbox, a giant oak tree, a windy driveway, a swing set in the back, and woods. The first floor has a mudroom, a kitchen, a piano room, a living, room, a dining room, a foyer, and a powder room. Downstairs is the basement and upstairs are four bedrooms, two bathrooms, an attic, and a laundry room.
Nothing too traumatic happened during my childhood.We celebreated many birthdays, holidays, and religious events in my childhood home. I went to school with the same friends from kindergarten to eighth grade. Lynchburg is small and there is not much to do there. The small airport’s only destination is Charlotte. You enter through either downtown or past the airport. Downtown Lynchburg has a few distinct buildings that are the Bank of the James and the Academy of Fine Arts. Our finals dance was at the Bank of the James on the rooftop. Finals is Virginia Episcopal School’s version of prom. You have Water stone Pizza, The Depot Grille, the Ploughcroft Tearoom, and Market at Main, for fine cuisine. There are a few shops across the street from the farmer’s market. The Craddock Terry hotel is also in downtown as well as a biking and running trail called Percival’s Isle. There are train tracks that cut right over the street to get to the trail. The lovely James River flows along the trail and is what you see coming through downtown. Amazement Square and Monument Terrace run up the hill as you leave the Depot Grille. Monument Terrace commemorates Lynchburg soldiers who fought in the civil war. Spanish- American war, World war I and II, the Korea, and Vietnam wars. That is all there is. The turkey trot in 2014 ran through downtown Lynchburg. You run up the beam bridges leading to madison heights and up rather steep incline called Pearl Road and finish by the Monument Terrace.
My friends and I would spend time at each others houses, see plays, or see movies. We had a trailer in the Boonsboro shopping center parking lot called Maylynn’s which is where you would get ice cream.. You would get fried chicken from a gas station. Boonsboro Country Club has golf, swimming, and tennis. Boonsboro Road shopping center is home to Isabella’s which is the restaurant of choice if you want to be fancy without going to far away from home. There is also Phila Deli in the shopping center where you always run into someone you know especially after back to school night at James River Day School where we all put our books in our lockers and meet our teachers before school starts. There is Kroger which is a gas station grocery store compared to Harris Teeter and Giant Eagle. Some stores such as Francesca’s, Talbot’s, Gladiola Girls, Chico’s, and Pheasants Eye. There is an outdoor store, pizza hut, and Starbucks. You could go to Rivermont Pizza along Rivermont Road. I liked this small town feel fo shops and restaurants in Lynchburg. There was famiarity everywhere you went.
Along Rivermont Road was Randolph Macon College now known as Randolph College when it became a co-ed school. I attended Holy Cross Catholic Church which is one of two catholic churches in Lynchburg. One year the church had termites and we went to church at Holy Cross Catholic School, which is close to EC Glass and the medical center. We run in the Virginia Ten Miler that starts at EC Glass and finishes at Randolph College for the four miler or back at Glass for the one and ten miler races. I have ran in the four miler and the one milers a couple times and I ran the ten miler once as I was part of the color guard that runs with flags to honor the troops.. Everyone in Lynchburg normally runs in the Virginia Ten Miler races. This section of Lynchburg is not as nice because it is rundown and crime occurs. My sister high school is also not in a nice area that she attended her freshman year. WE stick to our school district and stay away from the bad areas.
Close to the airport is the mall, a movie theater, fast food restaurants, Target, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, hotels, and Liberty University. There are a few car wash spots, frozen yogurt shop, Olive garden, Chick Fil A, and O’Charley’s. When you drive past the airport whose one destination is Charlotte you end up along 29 which is nothings but highways. From Charlotte it takes up three and a half hours to get to Lynchburg and to UVA it will take us four and half hours. I’ve been back and forth along 29 and always know when the airport will appear or downtown Lynchburg welcoming us back to our hometown. I never knew we would leave our hometown.
I am the middle child in the family. My sister was born in1996, I came along fourteen months later, and my brother was born in 2001. My brother was born on September 29 2001 when my dad was running in the Virginia Ten Miler. My dad originally signed up to just run four miles due to a surgery. My mom, sister, and I were sitting on the sidewalk by Virginia Baptist Hospital waiting for him to run by. My mom motioned for him to come over but he said he was fine and wanted to run the entire ten miles. She continued with the motioning and then he realized it was time for my brother to come into the world.
My sister and I shared a bedroom. We slept in twin beds with Disney princess sheets. Soon she ended up in the bedroom over the garage where she slept in her canopy bed. That room was where my siblings and I would perform plays for our parents. My brother’s room was across the hall from mine. All of us used to sleep in that room as babies. Sometimes we would play store in our rooms. We also made embarrassing home videos where my sister was bossy and told my brother and I what to do. I was definitely the worst filmer because I couldn’t hold the camera still.
In the basement we would perform a cooking show in which we would make fruit salad, peanut butter and jelly, or another simple dish. We used our miniature play kitchen in the basement. When neighbors would come over we would play Wii or play board games. Hide and go seek in the dark was the most thrilling because when the seeker would come downstairs it would be pitch black and one of the hiders would try to scare them by turning up the TV on full blast or grabbing their foot at the bottom of the stairs. We had white desks downstairs in which we would play school. My brother would always teach about volcanoes letting us know the color of lava and the color of the volcano.
Milestones in that house were first holy communions, eighth grade graduations, permit drivers, and finding out that we would be moving. That move was expected but it was hard on all of us. I was graduating eighth grade in June and my sister just completed her freshman year of high school. My brother would be starting fifth grade. I was upset upon hearing the news because I would not be attending Virginia Episcopal School with my friends that I have known since kindergarten. I also was scared to start high school in a brand new place. My sister held a grudge because she liked her school and didn’t want to leave. We left that house with a pizza stain on the carpet.
The news about the move came when my parents sat us down and told us about my dad and his new job in Pittsburgh. I was sad since I would leave behind my friends and not get to go to Virginia Episcopal School, a day and boarding school where we would wear dresses or skirts four days a week and the men would wear jackets and ties. It was sad when I had to write down where I was going to attend high school at my eighth grade graduation. I couldn’t write VES and I didn’t know where I would be for high school in Pittsburgh. I would have to start over and meet a new group of people. There would be no running into people everywhere I went or being at school in less than five minutes. My mom’s family lives an hour from Pittsburgh. I looked forward to seeing them more than twice a year. We also had family friends who would come over on weekends to hang out with us. The shift to high school was hard for me and my sister and I.
I experienced many things between the time I was born and when I turned fourteen. Virginia was all I knew and I was familiar with the everyday routine of a small town. I was going to high school and I had to start fresh.
103 Summer Place- 2011-2013
Summer Place did not live up to its name. It was reached by driving through a cornfield and past the district middle school and high school. It was a brand new neighborhood and our house was built on a plot of land with woods in the back. During hunting season you would hear gunshots in the woods and during homecoming you would hear the sound of the marching band. The only cool part about living in that neighborhood was that our neighbor was Jackie Evancho who got in second place in America’s Got Talent. We trespassed in her house as it was being built.
Pittsburgh is big and that first year was tough. We had my mom’s family who lived an hour away and family friends away who made our adjustment easier. The house’s main features are a catwalk, a living room, a dining room, an office, a kitchen, five bedrooms. five bathrooms, a basement, and a laundry room. My brother got a bigger room than my sister and I which made my sister mad. Her room was small. My sister and I shared a Jack and Jill bathroom.
The kids in the neighborhood were around my brother’s age so he made friends quickly. As for my sister and I we didn’t meet people until cross country preseason. We trained with the high school in our backyard but eventually went to a private school thirty minutes away. That drive to school was on a highway after the bus picked us up. It was a terrifying experience for us.
During the early days of our move we helped unpack boxes, meet new people, explore the city, and go to preseason practices. Slowly our belonging were unpacked and we got situated. The walls has scruff marks on them and the floors creaked but it was home. Our cousins would come and visit during holidays, birthdays, and on school breaks. We would spend time hanging out in the basement and sleep down there. For birthdays we would have a cake, early Thanksgiving meals were made the week before Thanksgiving and we lost those pounds playing Just Dance. The dark basement provided the perfect place to sleep. We would walk around the city, go to the farmer’s market to get pumpkins, run in races together, and see movies. I looked forward to those days. Christmases spent in Uniontown were always fun. My mom was one of seven siblings so our family get together were always huge as aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriends and girlfriends all squished in a house. My aunt makes the best sugar bomb cookies that have gobs of icing and powdered sugar on them. We celebrate our Polish roots by eating Polish foods and listening to Polish music. There would also be secret Santa for the adults in the house. Little cousins would open gifts and the older cousins would get money. We played Polly pockets and rock band, and drifted between rooms to catch up with each other. We would cram 25 plus people in a house suited for a family of five. We would eat meals, watch football, and look through old picture albums of us when we were little.
As high school started I was nervous. These kids knew each other since preschool and I would be trying to find a group. The nice thing about Sewickley Academy was that we only have four classes a day that would rotate according to the letters of the alphabet. For instance we would have Class A B, C, and D on Monday, classes E,F,G,H on Tuesday, and B,C,D,A on Wednesday. I enjoyed the free time for lunch and cross country. Cross country was popular in Pennsylvania. Most races were in the rain and mud.
Going back and forth between Pittsburgh and Sewickley was tough form a social setting. My sister always wanted to hang out with her friends after school but I rarely did. Those 2 years flew by quickly. I miss being close to family and sightseeing around Pittsburgh. We went to a Penguins game and a Pirates Game. We walked around the strip, ate at Pamela’s Diner, went to Mount Lebanon, and explored shops and stores. The smells in Pittsburgh such as the pastries from Dudt’s and Soergels, the Italian food from Labriola’s, and the aroma of pierogies at the Pierogie Palace were ones I remember the most. Traffic was a pain and people flew down the highways. There were many four ways and six way intersections. I wish we got the chance to stay longer. Recently I was back in July for my cousin’s wedding.
Holidays spent there were always fun. We would go to Christmas Eve mass in Uniontown and drive back home to spend Christmas morning in Pittsburgh. Then a couple days after we would go back to Uniontown, eat a lot of really good food, watch football, and relax. I enjoyed seeing them all the time. Now that we are in Charlotte we only see them three times a year.
206 Paddington Court- 2013-2015
We are back in Lynchburg. The rental house was the smallest house we lived in. It was only temporary because we would be moving to Charlotte We shared a driveway with our neighbors and had to make sure nobody was trying to leave the house when someone was returning home. It was mostly my family that kept coming and going down the driveway. I remember when I had my permit and it was snowing in Virginia. I almost caused our car to go off the side of the driveway since I didn’t break soon enough. We also had to watch out for our neighbor’s dog Buzzy who would run thought the woods and chase squirrels. Squirrels and der would also sit in the middle of the driveway staring us down so we had to wait for them to move. There was on squirrel that we saw all the time. My cousin hit him with his car and it was a sad day for all of us. Backing out from the driveway caused us to go up a hill into our neighbor’s driveway. You could either end up in the grass if you turned the wrong way or head straight up towards our neighbor’s garage. I remember I struggled with that part since our family garage was only a two car garage and someone had to park outside. On cold days my sister and I had to start the car before we left for school so we wouldn’t enter an icebox at 7:30 in the morning.
. I was excited to be back with my friends and finish my last two years of high school with them. This would be my second high school and my sister’s third one. I was going to be a junior and my sister was going to be a senior. My brother was going to be in seventh grade at the private school we all have been at since kindergarten. This time we knew we would be back for only two years. We were originally going to head straight to Charlotte but my parents wanted my sister and I to finish high school.
I was excited to be reunited with my childhood friends and finish high school with them. It was strange to be back in our little town after being gone. Everything remained the same. It was sad to drive back to our old house and see it sit in the dark because nobody bought it yet. We caught up with our friends.
It was strange for me to be considered the new student and go through new student orientation. The first year at VES was hard as I had to adjust to a different schedule and curriculum. Wednesdays were spent in the chapel with Bojangles after. Everyone would allow the seniors to leave the chapel first; I was glad to be a senior since I could get Bojangles before they ran out. We had to wear dresses and skirts four days a week and the guys had to wear jackets and ties. On Fridays we would get to wear spirit wear or business casual. We had our own hanging spot for the day students and occasional borders. The day student lounge had lockers and three ugly black couches with dirty red cushions. The stuff that occurred in the day student lounge were the memories that I always remember. In my AP composition class we had to keep a jounrla of funy things that people said and most of my quotes were from people in the lounge. We would procrastinate and suffer from senioritis as soon as we got accepted into one college. At least that was the case for me. I met new friends and kept old ones. After graduation we would all be going our separate ways.
I got my license before I started my senior year. Two high school graduations also occurred in that house.
2437 Ansley Court-2015-now
This is our final destination. I was going to start college at Queens, my sister would start her second year at UVA, and my brother would be starting high school. This house was a teardown. My parents would go back and forth between Charlotte and Lynchburg to check in on the status of our new house being built. Our neighborhood is along Providence Road by Wendover so it is only two miles away from Queens. I liked being close to home so I can go home whenever I wanted. Charlotte has a lot of restaurants and shops that we figured out how to get to. WE have navigated short cuts to get to places.
My brother has his friends, my sister is gone at UVA, I have fraternity friends, and my parents get along with neighbors. I joined Phi Mu after my sister and mom encouraged me to in order to make friends. I signed up that day and went through the three rounds of recruitment. Bid Day was a crazy and exciting day for all the new girls in each sorority. I met many faces and it was an overwhelming experience until I got my big and was initiated. My big and I share many things in common and she was the one I spent the most time around. Soon everyone formed into friends groups. Phi Mu gives me a reason to have fun in college. The only stressful times in Phi Mu are recruitment, philanthropy week, and elections. Being around these girls has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and take on leadership positions. They are my family too. So this move has been easier on us. Summer has been working and internships, camps, and family vacations. My cousin had been living with is for 2 years so he is a help around the house. We also got a dog two years ago. We got him because my mom felt sorry for my brother. Scout is now a two year old English cream retriever.
This is where we will stay.
About the Author:
Julia Zwetolitz is a senior at Queens University of Charlotte with a Professional Writing major and a minor in Organizational Communication. She helped create Queens literary magazine Signet. She is also a member of Phi Mu fraternity.