Anne P. Beatty never planned to move back to her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. But at 33, she did. In these lovely musings at The Rumpus, Beatty reflects on ambition, becoming a writer and an English teacher, and the fear of stasis when a person returns to the place they grew up. She also writes beautifully about adolescence and adulthood — what we hope for ourselves, and simply what is.

When we talk about our hometowns, we’re likely also talking about the rocky geography of adolescence: its intractable grip on our throats, which we might conflate with the landscape in which we were almost, but not quite, free. Adolescence is an age marked by deficit— what we don’t have, or don’t have yet.

My desk faces the wall; I don’t want to see the horizon when I write. As a kid, I was constantly looking beyond myself, beyond my world. What’s out there to see? To write about? Now, I just want one more hour, thirty minutes even, to work from within.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.