Family night at the Harris household consists of three things: decent to highly-satisfying thin-crust pizza, a couch like quicksand (but in a cozy way), and the nostalgia of Disney or other classic kid cinema.

The latter is the inspiration for this article. To my wife’s disbelief, I had never seen “Finding Nemo." So, you can imagine what our decision was for Friday.

(Those of you wishing to view the sequel in style can attend the 2nd Annual Outdoor Movie Night which will feature “Finding Dory”. Put on via the Student’s Fund of Hope, festivities begin Friday, Sept. 6th at 6 p.m. with the film kicking off at 8:30 p.m. on the Square. We would bring our pizza down there- couch in tow- but that’s too much work as our son is three. Accordingly, we must maintain bedtime discipline!)

There is a scene toward the end of “Finding Nemo” in which Dory realizes she can read a very important swim-goggle address that tells the duo where Nemo may be. From there, she and Marlin make their way to Sydney, Australia to rescue our marine protagonist.

If you are displeased that I did not insert an all-caps "SPOILER ALERT," this Disney-Pixar classic is straight outta 2003 so you have been given adequate time. Plus, I find the cliche of "spoiler alerts" irritating anyway. Be brave people and discuss film and literature without fear of offense!

It is this scene in which Dory reads a sign once in the waters of Sydney that caused my little boy to stand up on the couch and proclaim -- everso proudly on my part and his I might add -- “and, I’m from Hope!”

My wife and I looked at each other and said “That’s right buddy!” The two of them had painted rocks and placed them down at the Square that day for all to find. My wife had written “There is Always” on one side and “Hope” on the other. My wife reiterated to him that Hope is our hometown and did not attempt to explain the metaphor. He is a bright boy, but the slide on which he “hid” said rock was obviously more exciting than reviewing literary devices. Give it time though; his daddy is an English teacher.

The piece that stuck with me was the tone in which he averred his hometown. Sure, it was pleasing to see him make the connection to a home not of his own, but it got me thinking.

When I left Hope for college in the fall of 2004, I had no plans whatsoever of coming back. They were equal parts intent and wanderlust. When I finally received my degree and did return, my wife and I bought a house and started our family. I am happy for that. That is not to say that I was destined to be here or anything overly dramatic like that.

After all, there are far too many platitudes that one can make from living in Hope. “Living in Hope” could be one and I was not even trying.

It’s more that those years away made me appreciate the little and not-so-little things: Hope Heritage Days, The Hope Ride (even though the traffic is nightmarish -- sorry Paul!), events on the Square and bandstand, Christmas of Yesteryear and other Yellow Trail events, Cornett’s and the limited-yet-tasty food options Hope has to offer, checking in at the Gold Nugget, and much more.

Like the nostalgia and warmth that comes from watching the “When You Wish Upon a Star” Disney logo and introduction, I get the chance to relive those times with my son.

Driving home from Columbus one night not too long ago, I showed my boy where I grew up in Goshen Meadows. It looked basically the same. We did not get out or stop. Instead, as we idled around the loop of Brookside and Schaefer Drive, I shared stories of the kids from my neighborhood, running from imagined snakes in the small woods behind the addition, learning to ride my bike- without training wheels, and even getting my first kiss on the canopied slide that was removed before I was even out of high school. 

(By the way, when he sees the lighted sign of Dollar General as we come in on either County Road 600N or State Road 9, he exclaims “Dollar General! I see it. I see it.” Yeah, we are super fancy like that.)

Now, I am the kind to get choked up, as a true man will always admit. But this time, I wasn’t. I am too proud, pondering what memories my son will make when he grows up in this surprising little town because, “I am from Hope!”