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I Still Believe in a Place Called Hope (Arkansas, that is) by Shana Galen

This month we’re blogging about hope. I’ve been to Hope. I stayed in a Holiday Inn there. And I met the future President of the United States too.

In 1984 my family moved from Michigan to Texas. The economy in Michigan was struggling (kind of like now), and my dad got a job offer in Houston. He accepted the offer, bought a house, then called my mom and told her to sell the house in Michigan and pack up the car.

She did. She packed the whole house, arranged the move, then drove three days with two little kids and a cat. She’d never even seen the house my dad bought. I know she was operating on hope alone.

I hope the house he bought doesn’t have orange shag carpet (it did).

I hope the kids don’t get sick on the drive (my sister threw up the first day).

I hope we can sneak the cat into the motel (I told the friendly manager who said hi to me all about the cat in our room and we were asked to leave).

We did eventually make it to Houston, but not before that stop in Hope, Arkansas. It was the last stop on our trip, and things were going well. I resisted mentioning the cat to the friendly manager at the Holiday Inn. My little sister was over her car sickness. And the orange shag carpet had not yet been discovered.

We were excited about seeing my dad the next day, moving into a new house, and starting a new life. We all had high hopes for what the future held. Perhaps Hope was the perfect place for us to stop for the night. We were tired and trudged into the small hotel restaurant for a late dinner. The restaurant was really crowded, and when my mom asked why, the waiter told us the governor was there meeting with advisors that night.

Photos of Birthplace of William Jefferson Clinton, Hope
This photo of Birthplace of William Jefferson Clinton is courtesy of TripAdvisor

My mom was mildly interested, but my sister and I could have cared less. Still, we smiled and waved when Bill Clinton walked through the dining room and said hi to everyone. Nine years later my mom reminded me of that meeting when Clinton ran for President.

I think someone who runs for President must have an unlimited supply of hope. Anyone who decides to become an author must have even more. But that’s the wonderful thing about hope—it’s free, in unlimited supply, and available to everyone. And if you’re ever passing through Arkansas, you can visit it.


  1. Moving is always a time when you need hope. It's a chance for a fresh start, but everything is changing and that's always stressful. Seems like your mom had a positive attitude. ;-)

  2. She did have a good attitude, Mia. She'd already moved like 12 times by then, so she was a pro.

  3. As Mia said, moving is definitely a time for hope. If not, a person would just up and run away. I really dislike moving. I think authors need hope more than most to keep them sane during that wait for publication.

  4. Shana,
    I enjoyed reading that small slice from your early life. And may we never lose hope!

  5. I took a lot of cross-country car trips with my family as a kid, and subjected my daughter to the same experience. Now, when I have a really sticky plot that just won't give up its external conflict, I put on the list of stories I'll work on when I'm on my next big road trip. So far, I've always gotten back to Starfleet headquarters with an idea or two.
    But we never drove through Hope. Have to consult a map...

  6. Loved reading about your life, Shana! Your mom is a strong lady to undertake a move like that with small kids and a cat. Betcha she could give you a multitude of columns about hope.

  7. Wow, your mom is amazing! And I had to laugh about the cat. When I was a little kid, I would talk about everything to anyone who would listen, so I would have spilled the beans too. And thanks for the picture to remind us you can come from pretty humble beginnings and do great things!

  8. And the other great thing about my mom? She helped me move two months ago. She came over to the new house before we moved in and put shelf paper in all the drawers and cupboards. It took her 2 days. She said I couldn't possibly move in without shelf paper! LOL!

  9. Kudos to your mom for that move. The orange shag carpet would've done me in.

  10. Wow - your mom has earned my respect. Of course, pretty much all moms earn my respect - that is one tough job! And I agree about the self paper - a must have!

  11. Glad to hear there's a real town called Hope, Shana. Great post!


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