Let's say, due to unfortunate circumstances, you are uprooted from your family home late in your teens. You go to college and return to your town on breaks to stay with another family, who fortunately takes good care of you. At 20 you leave for good. You establish a career, a family of your own, but you are almost 4000 miles away from home. More than 30 years passes. With your own family raised you decide to go back and visit the place of your childhood, dragging along your husband of 25 years. That's me and it's exactly what I just did.
My life circumstances and decisions put me in a place where I never bumped into anyone with whom I went to high school, had no aunties or grandmas for child care emergencies, no cousins around for the kids to hang out with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining. We're quite happy, but there are things we've missed out on.
What is is about those growing up years that seem a far larger a proportion of your life than the actual amount of years. Is it that time feels like it passes more quickly now? 10 years, for example is now 20% of my life and back then it was 50%? Is it because those first 20 hold so much importance in your development?
I know I'm not alone and I'd love to hear others' stories of going home. Here's what I found out:
1. The distances between places is much shorter than I remembered.
2. The buildings seem smaller.
3. The trees are way taller. When approaching my home town by car, there was what I remembered as a really steep hill from which you could see a park, a pond, the road ahead, a shopping center and some stores. Now, after living in the mountains of British Columbia, the hill was pathetically small, and there was no view at all due to the trees. It was like driving in an urban forest.
4. The traffic congestion is unbearable. This is 25 miles outside of New York City. There is constant traffic. You could conceivably buy a car and never get over 30mph.
5. If I had to listen to it on a daily basis, the recorded voice on the Long Island Railroad would drive me round the bend.
6. Oh the food, the food. There is no food like the food you grew up with. There will be an entire post on food : )
7. Good friends don't change. Only in looks, a bit, but we're supposed to. It would be more scary if our faces and bodies didn't show years of experience. I spent time with six people I hadn't seen in 33 years. What a thrill.
8. Towns, like people, age. Sometimes with less character. A place I remembered as quaint is now crumbly and stinky.
9. Two weeks is not enough time to catch up on half a lifetime. There were places we couldn't get to, like my family's cemetery plot, the house where my grandmother lived, the beach where I hung out with my friends.
10. Time to click the ruby slippers. Although the East Coast was my first home, the West Coast is my home now. So what if the sun sets on the wrong side of the street. There's no place like home.
Finally, some recent photos: Playing tourist near my home town, my high school and the last shot is part of our hotel complex on Long Island. Believe it or not, it was less expensive than the nearest Comfort Inn.