Since I left my hometown (seemingly for good) 10 years ago, every time I make it home for a visit the trip is special — regardless of the circumstances. I get to eat my favorite foods at my favorite restaurants, see my old friends and remember how special this place was to me. I remember when I was younger, many of my friends could not wait to leave our hometown. They wanted to go to school in some far away place to reduce the chances that they would return. I was different. I didn’t really want to go, but I left anyway and came back to town as quickly as I could and then finally left again for good.
I guess what I love most about coming home is that it always seems to ground me and help me re-focus. It takes me back to my core values and gives me a sense of peace and belonging and a renewed sense of self. I remember once saying that I would never leave this city — and when I did leave I vowed to return. I bought my first house here all by myself at the age of 27 and joked that I would be carried out of it in a pine box. I look at this picture and remember buying those windows and shutters. I remember hiring someone to build that fence around the patio and cut down that big tree on the corner because I was always afraid someone would hide in it and jump out and get me. I remember my first garden in the backyard and the rows of cherry trees that produced cherries that made the world’s best pies. I remember cutting my own grass (all 2/3 acre) and painting every room myself after stripping countless layers of wallpaper. I remember digging a grave in the backyard and burying my dog after he got away from me one morning and was hit by a car. I remember everyone asking me why I needed a house that big as a single person and all I could do was smile and say “because I can“. I remember sleeping in that little room all the way on the top floor at the front of the house. I liked it there because it was the farthest point from the front door. I would lock myself away in the smallest and most remote corner of the house and reflect on all that I had accomplished all by myself. I was so proud of that girl who bought that house and cut that grass all by herself.
I’ve never ever gone back to visit that house on the corner. I put so much blood, sweat and tears into it I can’t bear to see what foreclosure has done to it. I rather remember it as I left it and work toward getting me back to the way I was when I left there too. Sometimes I think we need wakeup calls to get us on the right track. Sometimes it’s a visual reminder. This is mine. What is yours?