#2,224 Home Town on HGTV.

Today we finally saw our HGTV pilot, Home Town. I’m far too spent to recount the way it felt. It just wouldn’t be possible. But suffice it to say, I felt your love all around us from the moment I woke up (with shaking hands, I was so nervous) and I’ll sleep tonight knowing we did the best we could do, and that is enough. There are so many texts and calls and messages I may never be able to respond to them all, so I’m begging you to forgive me there and know that I’ve read them all and I can’t tell you how you’ve touched my heart and made us feel like it is possible to change the perception of a place, if you just share the light. Today we were given the key to the city and sat a few seats away from the governor of Mississippi and his darling wife, who are big Mississippi fans (obviously), but also big HGTV fans. It was a great honor that we are so grateful for. But we can’t fix everything. We can’t fix most things. We’re just two people and it takes a village to do something big. All we can do is tell you our story and what Laurel looks like from where we sit. And it’s a good place. It’s our family. This is what today looked like.

We went to the early service at church with my family.

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We went to the theatre for the screening.

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Where Governor Phil Bryant spoke on the creative economy in Mississippi.

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Jo was there! Well, sorta.

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Our friends and family and Laurel Main Street and cast and crew were there!

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We headed over to the historic train depot for the Home Town Homecomin’ thrown by Laurel Main Street, and it felt a whole lot like a wedding reception where we stood in one spot and took pictures with people in the receiving line for several hours. It was like my bad dream, where it’s the end of Big Fish and everyone you’ve ever known was there, except for a happy reason. I wore some cheap but cute Sam and Libby heels from Target and my feet never hurt. That’s the second best thing that happened today.

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Ben’s whole family came to see us and we broke it up into 3 pictures for some reason:

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And Mae Mae was there!

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And my dearest oldest friend, Hope was there!

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And Chief Tyrone Stewart was there! He couldn’t be at the screening and halfway through the homecomin’ party when I first saw him, I felt like I might cry. He’s been taking such watchful care over us since all this happened. He and his brother have been close to my family since they were teenagers when his brother Kim worked with my daddy at the hospital for years. When I worked at the mall in high school, Kim did part time night security and would always check in on me and walk me to my car if I had to close. When Baker went missing a few months ago, Tyrone called to tell me they’d given my runaway pup a police escort to the vet where he was safe and sound. When he went missing again a few weeks later, he had the police department put out the APB on a large, white, male great Pyrenees. When his sweet and brilliant daughter was finishing up college, she worked part time in daddy’s department just like her uncle Kim. We count the whole Stewart bunch to be like family and seeing him walk in made me choke up for just a second, feeling like “Superman is here!” before he hugged us and picked on us—talking about his favorite “celebrities.”

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My whole family was there too, but we didn’t organize enough for a picture somehow. Don’t that figure?! We went home and put on our old blue jeans and boots and headed over to Ross and Laura’s for a little after party on their now-famous porch and spent all night waving at the cars passing by as they honked, saying “hey y’all!” when neighbors would slow down to say they liked the show. There was Cheerwine and pizza and we all gathered in the living room and watched a replay of the show, seeing the Laurel bricks at our feet and on the TV. It was surreal. Like inception!

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We slowed down the credits and snapped pictures to send our friends who may have missed their names and deserve so much thanks.

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And we spent this day with the ones we love. In the place we love.

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Thank you so much, friends. By telling a story that’s full of love and hope, I think we all made something good today.