"Home should be an oratorio of the memory, singing to all our after life melodies and harmonies of old remembered joy."
-Henry Ward Beecher
For any of you who have ever moved away from home, and then lived in this new place for almost as long as the place you grew up, isn't visiting your place of childhood a bit odd? I experience a bit of this each time I go home, but let me back up a bit to give a more broader view of my back story.
I moved away for college the summer after I graduated high school, a mere week after I turned 18. My parents were freshly divorced and my home life was swiftly changing its landscape. My new home--a tiny dorm room I shared with a complete strange--was terrifying; yet the place I called home my whole life was precarious at best. While I left the battlegrounds at home, my siblings navigating through this new normal, I struggled with extreme homesickness and the newness of it all. So very slowly I integrated into this college life, this independent living. Each school year I moved to another place of residence. From the cramped dorm to apartment after apartment. I kept busy with school work and my jobs (sometimes a few jobs at once) and the small group of friends I made along the way. Until one day I had graduated from my many years of college with degrees I didn't know what to do with and a new husband and a house we bought together; and, somehow, I found this once intimidating city not so big and scary. It was now my home.
Now 15 years, a few more houses, and some kids later, whenever I return to my childhood stomping grounds, it's met with such a big ball of mixed feelings. Homesickness. Familiarity. Memories. Love. Laughter. These positive feelings are met with the opposing ones. Lost time. Lost moments. Memories made in my absence. I realize the familiarity I feel with the area stems from the past, while my loved ones--so many miles away--are still presently existing there. Trips back home are both amazing and exhausting.
This past weekend I took a trip back home all by myself. My husband held the fort down in my absence. It was both odd and liberating to tend to myself for once, not anticipating the needs of two dependent boys. I had this feeling I was forgetting something, like my phone or keys. My load felt lighter, but it was slightly disorienting. Who is Angie if not someone's mommy?
The visit was exactly what I needed, though. I arrived at my sister's Friday night and we laughed our way through Pitch Perfect, then spent the rest of the weekend adding "aca" onto the beginning of our words. As in: aca-believe it. Saturday morning I wasn't woken to a whiny boy wanting to cuddle or be fed. I was startled awake by my sister poking me in the nose. You can aca-believe I jumped, only to find her leering over me. It's really a toss-up on which method of waking is worse--crying kids or a creepy sister.
After watching my niece play a few games in a basketball tournament, we stole my other niece and met more family at the rink for our annual roller skating trip. After doubling up my socks to prevent blisters, I rounded that rink over and over, sometimes jamming to the music, sometimes couple or triple skating with a sister, cousin or niece. We limbo'd and lost. We knelt down with bent knees to see who could coast the longest in that crouched position (not me). We narrowly missed biffing it or taking out a small child. We thoroughly enjoyed our winter roller skating tradition.
That night my siblings and their families met our dad for dinner. It felt odd to me to be a family of one surrounded by my siblings' families, but I soaked in their company. We spent the rest of the night back at my sister's house, laughing until our heavy eyelids could no longer stay open. Then we called it a night at about 10:00. Aca-lame.
Sunday I was excited to be able to attend the monthly coffee date with my grandma, siblings and cousins. We munched on egg bake and donuts and sipped coffee while chatting. It's times like these where the opposing feelings of being home hits me the hardest. The camaraderie between my family members fills my heart yet also breaks it. I love the life I've built for myself here in my new place of residence, but it's hours and miles away from the place and people so very dear to me. The landscape and relationships of my childhood. One day soon I'll have lived in my new city longer than my old one, and that will be very strange.