All of our lives we go on waiting for the day that we get to break away from our pasts, to escape our childhoods and join a new and improved realm of adulthood- as if it’s that easy…as if going to college makes us adults. So we run away as fast as we can, searching for ourselves in new places.
But then one day you have to return to it all; after all, mom and dad’s house is the only place you can stay for free. You’re forced to return to where it all began. You even find yourselves excited to do so. Anxious to show off your new and improved self. “Look how far I’ve come,” you think. But sometimes, returning to your hometown brings you back to feeling like a stranger in a world of familiar.
Here’s what to expect:
The first time you return home:
You feel trapped and confined to the bubble that you had once managed to breakout of. Nothing has changed…except for you. All of the feelings that had long since been buried make their way to the surface again. You convince yourself that you miss your first love after driving through town and letting the nostalgia flood in through your windows. You avoid going out in public places if there is any chance of running into someone you may know; which is everywhere. Did you just dream up all of the progress you made? You count down the minutes until the next jail break.
The second time you return home:
You are more confident in your transformation. You feel out of place in the only place you used to feel at home, as if everyone in the town has moved on without you. Sports teams you used to play for are filled with new baby faces who prance the school hallways with the confidence you once had. You realize how embarrassing your childhood room is, “I must adultify this immediately. A couple candles will suffice,” you think to yourself. You look at things that once blended in to the background differently- your house desperately needs a paint job, grass is taking over the old parking lot you used to solicit with your friends, your neighbor seems to be much older than you had remembered. You get past high school stereotypes. You realize that people change.
The third time you return home:
You find the old comfort of driving on familiar streets. You learn to accept to breathe in the new details of an old place; freshly cut grass, the comfort of your bed despite the seven monkey stuffed-animals, the freshly brewed specialty coffee at your favorite cafe. Sweet little things remind you of your past but don’t transport your heart there. You realize that people don’t change.
Hometowns are where it all began. Where the best and the worst of your childhood happened. Where you loved and you learned. Where you realized that it sometimes takes leaving something great to find something better. Your hometown is your living-history.