I Am Home

I Am Home

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

I Am Home

Peace, like charity, begins at home.

Source Unknown

You know how some people say that they never realized how much they loved their childhood until after they grew up? Well, I always knew that I was having a great childhood while it was happening. It wasn’t until later on, when things weren’t going so well, that I clung to the memories of that happiness and used them to find a way back home.

I grew up on a farmwith a huge family. There was lots of love, lots of space and lots to do. Fromgardening to cutting hay, from working the horses to doing household chores, the word “bored” never found its way into my vocabulary— I loved it all and none of it seemed like work to me. Peer pressure was nonexistent, since the only “gang” I ran around with was the gang of animals on the ranch. My family and I were very close, and living so far out in the country kept us all at home most nights. After supper, my brothers and sisters and I would play games or tell stories, laughing and having fun until it was time to go to bed. Falling asleep was never a problemforme. I just listened to the sounds of chirping crickets and dreamed of another day on the farm. This was my life, and I knew I was lucky.

When I was 12, something tragic happened that would change my life forever. My father suffered a severe heart attack and underwent a triple bypass. He was diagnosed with hereditary heart disease, and it became a terrifying time for all of us. The doctors informed my dad that he would need to drastically change his lifestyle, which meant no more horse training, no more tractor driving . . . no more ranch life. Realizing that we couldn’t keep up the place without him, we were forced to sell our home and move west, leaving behind family and friends and the only life that I knew.

The dry Arizona air was healing for my father, and I was adjusting to a new school, new friends and a new way of living. Suddenly I was going on dates, “cruising the mall” and dealing with the pressures of being a teenager. While things were different and strange, they were also exciting and fun. I learned that change, even when it is unexpected, can be a good thing. Little did I know that my life would be changing again, and in a very big way.

I was approached by a personal manager from Los Angeles who asked me if I had ever thought about acting. The idea had never crossed my mind, but now that it did, my interest was sparked. After giving it some thought and talking it over with my mom and dad, we decided that my mother and I would move to L.A. for a while and give it a shot. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

Thank goodness my mother was right by my side from the very start. Together, we approached it like an adventure, and as my career grew, so did I. By the time that Beverly Hills, 90210 had become successful, my mom and I both decided that it was time for her to return to Arizona and the rest of the family. The little girl from the farm was disappearing and being replaced by the grown-up woman in the big city.

I truly loved my job and my success was more than I could have ever dreamed of. And yet . . . something was missing. Slowly a dark void found its way into my heart and began to eat away at my happiness.

I tried to figure out what was missing. I tried working harder, then working less. I made new friends and lost touch with old ones. Nothing I did seemed to fill the void. I realized that I wasn’t going to find the solution to the problem while going to clubs and endless parties, and living in the fast lane. I tried to remember when I was happiest, when the things in my life mattered most. I asked myself what was important to me. Finally, I had the answer. I knew what I had to do to be happy. Once again, my life was about to change.

I called my mom and dad and said, “I miss you too much. I need my parents back. I’m buying a place out here and I want you to move to California.” My father wasn’t too keen on the idea of being back in the rat race, but I assured him that this time, it would be nothing like that. So we began looking for a place outside of the city— a place complete with animals running all around and a garden full of vegetables just waiting to be picked for the supper table. A place that could be the family home where everyone could visit. A gathering place for the holidays. A haven, safe from the outside world. A place just like I remember growing up in.

Then one day we found it: the perfect ranch, nestled in a warmand sunny valley.My dreamhad become reality. The dark void that gnawed insideme began to fade, and a sense of balance and serenity returned to my soul. I was home.

Jennie Garth
Beverly Hills, 90210

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