OYM Day 31: The girl at home
I keep a list on my phone of things to do when I go “home”. I moved out of my small town in Indiana the fall before my 19th birthday. I moved to Phoenix on a whim, then to Chicago for school, then South Korea for a whirlwind year, and now reside in our lucky lady, Las Vegas. I’ve lived out of Indiana as long as I lived in it. But it’s still home.
I visit maybe once a year. It’s always a quick 48 hours or so and second fiddle to visiting Chicago. From Chicago I can take an hour and a half train ride, on a train my grandmother lovingly refers to as “The Vomit Comet”, and be close enough to home that someone usually doesn’t mind driving out to the station to pick me up.
Although my hometown is only an hour or so from a big city, they couldn’t be any different. And sure, my “little town” isn’t so little anymore, but it was when I was there. There was 1 high school. Zero diversity. And an annual festival that celebrates popcorn. I think back on it and the nostalgia is almost crippling. So I don’t let my mind go back there often. It’s too hard. I can miss it until I’m powerless, but it’s not the same now. As the saying goes, “you can never go home again.”
Nevertheless, I have my list.
- Visit my grandparents head stones. Talk to them.
- Go to the library (is the big, Victorian doll house still on display?).
- Walk through the ravine (it’s right by the golf course and I knew every rock and stream by heart).
- Attend a service at my old church (really I just want to smell it).
- Go to my grandparents old house and see if the tree stump is still out back (if it is, I’ll rub my hands on it’s shiny surface…shiny from many, many shoes climbing and jumping off of it).
- Go to the grocery store and walk ever aisle.
- Get a java wave at the gas station (it’s a coffee/hot chocolate that made me feel like an adult in high school).
- Go by all my old friends houses, of course. Find the bedroom windows we used to throw pebbles at in the middle of the night.
- Order pizza from the local place and eat it in the park where I used to climb trees.
- Ride a bike through my old neighborhood, but not down my old street.
Even now, I find it very hard to go down or even look down my old street. I have been a few times since moving away, but I regret it every time. It looks different. And more than that, I just can’t bring myself that close to where a part of me still lives…in the upstairs hall, the tall grass in the backyard, skating around the garage, and hiding in the basement. She’s still in there and I can feel her from the sidewalk in front of the house. And I love that little girl that roams in those walls, but I spent a lot of time trying to soothe her and I feel like I have, but I’m not ready to find out if that’s true or not.
I’ll check things off my list someday…someday when i have a couple weeks to myself, as this is a trip I want to do alone. And well… I have a toddler so it’s going to be awhile. And my little home town will continue changing. I’ll recognize it less and less. I’ve already forgotten street names, old teachers…and when someone tells me about an apartment complex off of 250 West I just nod and wonder where that is.
But it’s all there in my mind. The visions are so detailed I can smell them…and see the dust particles twinkling in the air…hear the creak of the kitchen pantry as it opens, feel the sweat on top of the refrigerator as I blindly reach for hidden packs of gum. And it hurts to do this, so I can’t focus on them for too long. I’m still not ready.