a love letter to my city.


When I was 17 and graduation was a hop, skip, jump away and college was a reality and I was ready to leave my awkward high school skin behind, my parents were battling the fear that I might not ever leave. Because while I couldn’t wait to walk away I had no idea where to walk to. On May 1st, 1994 I did what my Daddy told me to. I picked the first place that came to mind as the steam rolled out of a hot morning shower.

Columbia, SC.

I didn’t know that 19 years later, excepting one year after college, I would still be living in this city of cement and pecan trees and red sandy hills. I had grown up with mountains around every corner. I found sticky breezes, flat horizons and low country azaleas. I gave up things. Green tinged evenings that smelled of musty wood and tea olives. Crisp autumns that brought patchwork tree lines. The relief of a soft breeze on a summer evening.

But I gained things. New skin. The relief of a good friend during a hard season. The beautiful aggression of a page of William Faulker. A caramel eyed boy who would understand how much I needed to laugh. Two sons: one with freckles for days and another with an affection for cowboy boots so strong he actually wore them to the pool today. A daughter. A daughter. The weight of that has broken me and mended me. Community.

My city. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, a breeze is a bold hope. Yes, the summer air wraps its vice grip around you until it lulls you into a trance. Yes, it’s still feels small. But it’s also this. It’s gardenia and jasmine surprise. It’s pink sunsets almost every night from May to October. It’s the thunderous roll of a summer born storm. It’s autumn air so mild and sweet. It’s neighborhood church bells on the hour. It’s taking twilight strolls in your jammies.

And this is my love letter to it.

I wonder. Where do you live? And what has it brought you?

I’m linking up with The Influence Network today.

23 thoughts on “a love letter to my city.

    • Hi, Hannah! We do have a lovely state (albeit warm). Thank you for your kind words. And I do hope that daughter or not you know the healing of facing deep down things and lifting them to the Lord.

  1. Beautifully written friend. I just told the story TODAY about the awkward freshman orientation and the blessing of a friend in the midst of that chaos.

  2. Beautiful, Ellen! I remember starting college at CC and hearing a BSU leader say that Columbia had become “home,” and I was doubtful that would happen for me…but it certainly did. And it took awhile (a long while) after I moved away for my new home to feel that way. And since I worked downtown after college, I would add that I grew to love hearing the USC fight song being played three (or maybe four?) times a day during football season from loudspeakers atop a nearby building! Do they still do that???

  3. Your writing is so beautiful. I always struggle to write descriptions that convey what a place is truly feels like at its heart, and you’ve done that wonderfully here. I feel full of your town even though I’ve never been there. I’m glad to have found you through Influence!

  4. Ellen, you always sweep me away with your words. There are about 10 lines that I want to quote back to you, because they hit my heart. But I’ll stick with this one “A daughter. The weight of that has broken me and mended me.” Amen.

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