As I am writing this post, this year marks the ninth year that I have lived in the lowcountry of South Carolina. It blows my mind because it feels just like yesterday that I was packing up that U-Haul with my family in Carroll County and headed off to start my middle school career in a mysterious land where no one knew of an infamous member of the Bolt family. Geographically, it wasn’t a grand relocation, but to that eleven year old me, it felt like I had been completely transported to a new galaxy. Bluffton, South Carolina was certainly not comparable to my hometown of Hillsville, Virginia.
For a frame of reference, Bluffton can be best described as, “the town you drive through to get to Hilton Head Island.” The highway to the Island is jammed tight with tourists on and off season, outlet malls provide for weekend entertainment, marshes and grand live oaks dripping with Spanish moss cover most of the terrain, elite celebrities frequently visit the area in private, and Savannah is less than 30 miles down the road. This picturesque place is a land that I am blessed to live in, every day in the Lowcountry is a gorgeous one. Bluffton is a beautiful town and I am grateful for those who welcomed me with their true Southern hospitality, but that’s not my hometown.
My hometown is Hillsville, Virginia. I struggled for years after I moved to say that to people. When meeting new folks, they usually insist that I tell them where I am from, because of my heavy Appalachian accent. Nobody knows where Hillsville is. Nobody knows where Carroll County is. Some people would laugh at the name, others would smile and I would have to explain its location between Virginia Tech and Mount Airy, North Carolina. Who would know of a town that’s claim to fame is a courthouse shooting that occurred around the same time as the sinking of the Titanic? Maybe the folks that are a part of the reenactment every year, but not many more. Although, a few more people may know Hillsville for its gigantic flea market held every Labor Day weekend. That’s the only time of year you’ll run into traffic in town. Ever. The fried Oreos are great too, bad for your heart, but delicious.
Recently, I have discovered that it doesn’t matter how many people know where Hillsville is. I know where it is and what it means to me. Hillsville is my home. I have a twang, I have caught lightning bugs in the summertime, I have toured the Carroll County Courthouse on a 5th grade field trip, I have played on a soccer team sponsored by the Hillsville Diner on Main Street, I have been on the front page of the local newspaper, and I love my hometown. It is a part of me and my own history.
Chelsea Bolt is a Second Wind author of the young adult novel Moonshine. For more information check out these sites: