Sweet Georgia on my mind

We moved to Hinsdale when I was 3 years old. I never could have guessed just how great this town would be, and I never could have imagined that the day I'd have to leave would come so quickly. Although I have always loved Hinsdale, it is the daunting task of saying goodbye that has made me realize just how special and important this town really is to me.

As a kid, Hinsdale was swinging on the tire swing with friends and playing "cherry cherry" at Robbins Park. It was block parties and Fourth of July parades, as well as lazy summer days spent at the Hinsdale Pool. Hinsdale for me was St. Isaac Jogues, with its beloved teachers and feeling of family. I couldn't have asked for a better place to grow in my education and in my faith. As a teenager, nothing beat riding bikes around the neighborhood, taking in the sight of all the beautiful houses. Every summer I'd look forward to sitting outside at Fuller House, every fall I couldn't wait for the doughnuts at Page's and every winter I'd hold my breath, waiting for the Christmas lights to shine throughout town and make it feel magical.

Hinsdale is where I kicked my first soccer ball, performed in my first musical, and got my first job. For 14 years, Hinsdale has been with me through every life event, no matter how big or small. It has been my home.

By definition, a home is "the place where one lives permanently." But sometimes a home is not meant to be permanent. A home, just like friends and family, is there to help us grow, to teach us about life and love, and to shape us into the people we are meant to be. Hinsdale has done its job.

Now, it's Georgia's turn. When we leave home, we have no idea if we will find it again somewhere else. But I am hopeful and confident that I will find it at the University of Georgia. I didn't know 14 years ago what Hinsdale would become to me, and I can only imagine what Georgia has in store. I look forward to new challenges and new opportunities. I am eager to make lifelong friends, to learn new things, to grow as a writer and as a person. Mostly, I look forward to seeing how this new stage in my life shapes me and how this new home changes me for the better.

And although I have to say goodbye for now, Hinsdale will always be a part of me, as will my friends and the memories I have made here. No matter where I end up, no matter where life takes me, I hope to find a place that makes me feel like Hinsdale has all these years. A place that feels like home.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale is member of the Class of 2020 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. This is her final piece as a contributing columnist for The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].