I’m not quite a native Cape Codder, and having grown up on Cape Cod, I know that I have to say that. In reality, I spent my first two years in Maine until my parents moved to Hyannis in 1979. But since then, Hyannis has been my home from 1979 to 1995 when I went off to college, again in 2004-2005, and finally since 2010.
I came home for two summers during college and moved on to enjoy the vibrant city life for many years. I have to say I left Hyannis as quickly as I could. As a young adult, I complained of the lack of things to do, the seasonal atmosphere and the attitudes of full-time versus summer families. Really, I never thought I’d call Hyannis my home again.
Moving to Philadelphia after college was an adjustment. The city felt dirty and didn’t have the small city charm of Boston. I had not chosen Philly, instead I had joined Americorps and North Central Philadelphia became my home. I loved working with the kids, teens and adults through community development and social justice programs. That experience shaped my budding feelings of wanting to make a real difference when it came to class, race and education. I spent four more years in Philadelphia as a mentor, schoolt eacher and community advocate.
And then, my husband was laid off. We talked and realized that Philadelphia was not where we wanted to make a home. My parents offered us a place to stay until we figured out where we wanted to put down roots, so we put all of our belongings in a moving van and trekked to Cape Cod.
I have to say, I was a little ashamed to be moving back “home” with my parents. This was not what I had expected, and a prideful part of me had made a long ago promise not to get “stuck” on Cape.
We worked like crazy that year; two, sometimes three, jobs a piece saving for a down payment on a home. Interestingly, slowly, insidiously, the Cape was growing on me. We looked at houses (this is 2005), and realized on our salaries we’d be happy to rent an ice hut on someone else’s land. It just wasn’t doable. The “Cape Cod Times” ran some great articles at the time about how young adults that grew up on Cape Cod couldn’t buy a house here and were moving away. The Housing Assistance Corporation has many articles that talk about the same issues. That’s what happened to us. We moved…
But we weren’t happy with our choice, yet a house and mortgage kept us there for five more years. Every once in a while during that time, I would find myself longing for something distinctly Cape Cod. A particular beach, gelato from a store on Main Street in Hyannis, a dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, or those harder to place feelings of knowing exactly how to get around, where to go and how things work, almost instinctively. Maybe if we had moved somewhere friendlier, or bigger or warmer I wouldn’t have felt that way, but I did. I wanted to move back to the Cape. That was a shock.
During that time, we, like many other homeowners, found ourselves owning a home that was worth less than half of what we were paying. After a choice to stay home that came before right before the bust, we found ourselves in a place we didn’t like, with a home we couldn’t sell and no opportunities for jobs. During that time, my mother passed away and the home I had grown up in was vacant. My husband and I talked and realized that we both felt the Cape had more to offer and we’d be happier. Again, another huge shift in my thinking had slowly taken me by surprise.
So, three weeks after my second daughter was born, we again rented a moving truck and moved back to my family home. This time it felt right, we were excited, we had hope for better opportunities for ourselves and our children. It was an almost redeeming homecoming.
The Cape has changed. It is not so much a one-season area. Many businesses stay open year round and those that are seasonal have extended past the hard and fast Memorial to Labor Day rules. My children loved it. We went to the beach, walked down Main Street in Hyannis, kept the bouncy house in business, window shopped at the Mall and went to almost every kid-centered festival of the summer. My oldest daughter blossomed. She loved it. Entering daycare in the fall, she loved all of the kids and activities and has flourished both in and outside of school.
I found a job that I love, teaching high school students at a public alternative high school program. My husband has found a job he loves using his IT skills and learning more about business solutions. We go to the playground, walk the beach, find a new local restaurant to try, visit places from my youth and places that will be new to us as a family.
It has been a time of growth and of experience for our family. We have grown closer and learned what we enjoy doing together. Had we have stayed where we were, we would not have had the opportunity to experience the beach, small towns, large towns and cities. As a family, we are taking a deep breath and appreciating the home we have made.
Yet, we also feel that Hyannis has so much to offer and so much growth to achieve. I recently joined the Greater Hyannis Civic Association and chair the task-force called “Supporting Our Youth.”
This is not a big machine dictating programs and money. This is a way for you and me to positively influence the lives of the youth of our community. We are strengthening, developing and supporting programs that work as well as creating scholarships and work programs.
We have mentors ready to come alongside the youth and businesses that can support these and other efforts. I’d like to see more of us join together. We can make a real difference. I envision business owners supporting children through scholarships for camp, the arts and sports activities. I’d love to visit a shop and see a high school student working through a youth employment initiative and in five to ten years I’d love to watch as scores of mentored children receive their high school diploma.
The Supporting Our Youth Task-force is actively seeking members to join our work. Currently we are focusing on mentoring, scholarships, youth employment & training and strengthening communication with all families in Hyannis. If you are an individual who lives or works in Hyannis and would like to get involved, attend one of our weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 6pm at the Hyannis Public Library or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This week, we will be having the large Voice of the Villages meeting in lieu of our taskforce meeting: Tuesday, 7pm at Hyannis West Elementary School.
Though I came to appreciate my hometown through a circuitous journey, I now feel committed to strengthening and celebrating all that Hyannis has to offer and I know that many people feel the same way.