A small ice cream stand next to the fire house where you could see all the glistening red and yellow fire trucks. We used to go there in the evening after baseball games if we won and sometimes if we didn’t. The sun would just be setting and the darkening sky was aglow with brilliant reds and oranges.
Inside the brightly lit stand the workers were busy hustling about getting everyone’s orders ready. As I got to the window full of excitement I would peruse all the different ice cream combinations insisting on ordering last so I could make sure I saw everything they had to offer. I really don’t know why because I would always get the same thing…vanilla dipped in chocolate. If I got to it quick enough the chocolate coating would still have some give and you could get just the right amount of chocolate to vanilla. It was perfect!
As dusk settled and the sky blanketed us in a deep, dark blue, we would eat our ice cream and just watch the world going on around us while the little white stars became just barely visible. Me and my chocolate mustache were most likely thinking about what I was going to watch on TV when I got home.
I have to admit, I am feeling a bit nostalgic about the place I grew up in and spent most of my life. It is with a blend of anxiety and excitement that I make my way back to that old familiar place.
Being in my hometown now, it is a feeling of bittersweetness, No longer do we own the business that brought us here in the first place and driving past it, seeing that it could use some work…well, maybe a lot of work, It makes me angry that the new owners would let it go like that. My family always had the place looking good inside and out. But what are you going to do? I have no control over what goes on there anyway.
I used to enjoy fishing at the lake down the road and as I drive past it on Main St. I do not see anyone fishing or out in their boats. Maybe you can’t fish there anymore? I don’t know but it really is a beautiful lake. One that I’ve caught quite a few Bass at.
I now live across the country which is not exactly a short distance that would make it easy for me to make regular visits home, so I don’t have the safety of my parents’ nest or the familiar faces of my high school friends to look to for comfort anymore. But I did get to know the world outside the cul-de-sacs of my home town.
New friendships were formed, and new independence was found and when it came time to return “home”, the definition of that word has changed forever. Life had changed, I had changed. As the years go by my concept of home keeps changing. My visits are seemingly becoming less and less and with each visit, my feelings towards the place where I had my first kiss and learned my first life lessons becomes a bit more unfamiliar.
Being away for so long, I would see my home town through rose colored glasses, a place where times were simpler and I was more carefree. This, of course wasn’t true. It really wasn’t more simple and my so called “carefree(ness)” got me into a lot of trouble at times.
Going home can also feel like a school reunion at times but eventually we run out of old stories and memories to tell and we’re left there feeling like an outsider.
Sometimes I feel as though the streets, houses, faces, and even certain times of day feel like a dream, as if past and present are merging. Even passing the high school, after years of absence, I cannot believe that all new generations of kids are living their adolescent lives there.
It’s a sad feeling, really, a feeling of loss. The loss of home can bring with it a fear of never having another, as well as the rude awakening that I most likely took it all for granted. But with that fear brings the realization that I am the person I am today because of that experience. And with the loss, what emerged in me was a re-evaluation of my priorities and a revitalized sense of self.
As I sit in my own home in California, seeing “home” (people, places and things) through photos sent to me on my phone or on Facebook, I felt my heart breaking. But we have to remember that we may have lost the “home”, but not the memories. Now we just have to find a new place to hold them.