09/05/2012 07:04 am ET Updated Nov 05, 2012

Kristin Shaw Loves Elkhart, Indiana

Kristin Shaw is an Elkhart native turned Austin-based aviation industry marketer. A graduate of University of Cincinnati, Kristin loves her family, airports, classic cars, sports, Italy and dessert; not necessarily in that order. She blogs at Two Cannoli and keeps the world abreast of her whereabouts through her Twitter. Her work has been featured on A Family Village, Her Social Network and Scary Mommy.


Dear Elkhart,

The house I grew up in has a lot of windows. It was brand-new when my parents moved to the neighborhood, which was mostly dirt lots at the time. Today, the sandy road has been paved and new homes sit where wild strawberry plants once grew, but when I come home my memories of our time together seem fresher than ever.

Your people are reserved, but friendly. The Amish live nearby and the locals travel to the outskirts of town to buy their apple butter and cinnamon rolls. The transactions are quiet but dignified.

Which isn't to say you never get loud. You are, after all, the band instrument capital of the world and the host of the second-largest county fair in the country, where fried food, live music and games compete for attention.

Your old money sits along the river in the original homestead sites. One of these buildings, Ruthmere, features original Rodin statues, a Renaissance-worthy mural on the ceiling and silk wall coverings. I like to come and marvel at the Choralcelo -- a piano-like instrument that was never produced on an industrial scale. The sound and sight of this one-hundred-year-old instrument is too beautiful to describe with words.

You're a town where people stop by at 9 a.m. without calling ahead because they are in the neighborhood and where the high school team plays hoop at the junior high school gym because it is big enough to hold the crowd. I'm amazed you haven't lost that casual confidence. You still have the drive-in where I had my very first job, though the carhops no longer wear skates and poodle skirts.

I come home to you because I miss your soft grass, huge oak trees and that house my parents bought in 1974. I am awed by your soft pink and blue sunsets and the determination of your people to keep working despite the declining economy.

I come home to see people who weren't necessarily my close friends growing up and find that we have something tremendous in common. We have you in common and that makes all the difference.