Can a hometown be not the town you grew up in, but the town you feel the most at home in?

“When I first drive into town, seeing the Falls and smelling the mill, I am happy,” Vicki Sullivan writes of Rumford. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

If so, Rumford is that town for me.

I grew up in South Portland and moved back for almost 10 years, but I don’t feel the attachment to it that I do to Rumford.

Rumford was my father’s hometown, which he held dear to him. So is that the reason for my connection to it?

Or is it the memories of the many trips there to visit my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, too numerous to list?

Or that my Italian family had a home there for 100 years?

Or that it is a place familiar and comforting to me?

For years, along with my parents, I visited my relatives there, but after my Aunt Theresa died in 2014 and the family house was sold, I didn’t think I’d have any reason to or want to return.

But soon, I found myself almost homesick without Rumford. So on a whim one afternoon, I drove up. Driving by my relatives’ houses and walking around downtown made me feel rooted again.

So now, twice a year, I return to Rumford. When I first drive into town, seeing the Falls and smelling the mill, I am happy.

As well as my usual routine, I’ve added new rituals such as staying overnight and venturing into Bethel.

Before I leave, I drive down Congress Street again to say goodbye. When I leave town, I always feel sad. That’s because I’m leaving a place that feels like home.

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