You can’t always go home again. That’s the saying, right? Everything is going to look different, feel different, be different, cause in most cases, it’s not your home anymore. It’s the memory that exists, and the adventures spent growing up. This past week, I did go home again. I thankfully took a week of vacation to both attend the Writers Institute Conference and spend some quality time at home with the family. Of course, after attending the conference I kept leaving my family to go write for hours. In case you were wondering, yes, it was wonderful. But you can’t escape a small town forever, as hard as you might try. Everywhere I went I learned about another one of my classmates getting married, moving somewhere, having a kid, etc. and then they’d ask me, what are you doing now? Me? Oh, I’m writing. I mean, I manage 20 sales associates at a department store, and I’m writing…again. Kind of…well, I have a blog…actually…I’m writing about growing up in this town. *Kill. Me. Now.* What is it that makes us so competitive and comparing of others when we go home? Please, someone tell me it goes away with age.
On this trip home, I kept thinking about the same places I used to go to all the time while growing up, and about how they’ve changed. Take for example, the movie theater. My mother was good friends with the owner, so she and I would go see movies together when I was little. I remember going to see the Christmas movie, Prancer, with my mom, and the owner came to our house one day and gave me a copy of the book too. Now, the theater looks like this:
Where I was standing to take the photo used to be the screen room! Now it’s a parking lot. And the building was knocked down and rebuilt into a storage space and public restroom. Not exactly entertaining.
Some of the improvements made in town are wonderful. The library was able to remodel and expand and it is simply breathtaking. (Of course, knocking down the cinema so many years ago only helped the library’s case in this feat. If you can’t watch the silver screen, the town will have to read about it instead! lol.)
I find the library’s expansion uplifting. In a town where three video rentals have closed up due to one Redbox and some netflix subscriptions, it’s nice to know the library is still meeting people’s needs and able to improve and advance its services.
One change, though its most likely proven itself to be safer, more useful, more commercial, and generally more welcoming, will forever make me sad. The old railroad bridge.
You can see it’s not bad. I’m all for bikes and encouraging outdoor activity. But I LOVED that old railroad bridge more than anything else in that town. Granted, the bridge didn’t look like it did in the first picture when I was growing up, but it really wasn’t far from it. The steel rails on the sides of the bridge were gone, but the tracks were still there. The wood was rotting and weathered. The guard rails thoroughly rusted. The wooden planks underneath were spacious and a safety risk for children. But if you were brave enough to cross that bridge, you were somebody. And me and my friends, hung out on the bridge, late at night staring down at the river below and watching the reflection of the street lights from the town on the water. So many memories on that old bridge. Staying up all night to watch the sunrise (turned out to be cloudy all day that day), making up stories about the fishermen that only came out at night, feeding the ducks old bits of bread, saying ‘I love you’ for the first time, and meaning it.
Walking along the bridge now, it didn’t feel special to me. It felt crowded. Too many people were walking past me this time. The river didn’t look as special standing at the railing instead of swinging my legs back and forth over the water. I was feeling pretty down, ready to start ranting to the next person whizzing by on their bicycle or walking across with a tackle box. They had no right! But I stopped myself, and started thinking about where I live now. Where did I go when I needed some space, and what view was special to me in my new town. The answer was easy. The old bridge in the marsh. The boards are made of wood, the best side view has a giant tree knocked over into the river and the water collects and pools over the branches to wash down the way. I didn’t feel misplaced or upset anymore. I felt like I was in the right place in my life right now. I didn’t belong to this small town anymore, but I grew up in it. And now I’ve made some roots in a slightly bigger town, but one that still speaks to me, one with an old, wooden bridge in it. I can’t say how long I’ll stay here, but if I do ever move, I hope I find another old bridge to cross when I’m feeling lost.
Do you ever feel misplaced going home again? What place is special to you? What places or things remind you of home in a new way?