This past Wednesday I travelled back to my tiny hometown to be there in support of a friend at a funeral. It was a very surreal experience feeling like an outsider in the town I grew up in. I guess that happens when you leave town the day after high school graduation and don't return until 10 years later.
You see my hometown was TINY we're talking graduated high school with 19 people tiny! My single goal in high school was to leave and not look back. I didn't even glance in my rearview mirror as I drove out of town that day knowing I wouldn't be back. But life is funny that way I grew up remained in contact with some of my classmates and when I learned one of them would be facing a difficult funeral I swallowed my words of "I'll never come back" and drove home to the little bitty town where I spent thirteen years of my life. I saw the town with fresh eyes not with the disdain I had for it when I left 10 years ago but with fond memories of a happy childhood and high school experience. I also saw it with the eyes of a woman who no longer had her mother. I spent much of my time there answering the question of "how's your mom" only to be met with sadness and disbelief when I mentioned her passing.
I got to see three of my former classmates and realize well we're all getting old. I met one of their families and we reminisced about high school and all the crazy things we once did, only this time I saw them through the eyes of a parent not a carefree teen. It's really quite amazing how things have stayed almost exactly the same even down to some of the people and also to see how much things have changed. It was actually a really nice day getting to see three men who in high school were dear friends of mine and to see that they've remained friends. They are an inspiration to many I don't know many people who can say they still have friends they knew in kindergarten. I only wish I had strong ties like they do I have strong friendships but I didn't mean the women who are like sisters until well after high school and even college. Thanks to modern communication I have kept in minimal contact with people from my graduating class and to some extent know about their lives, but the truth is I liked it that way I was content for people to know I was doing well and had a family but I didn't want to disclose my struggles especially as they pertained to my mom. I had a couple of lump in the throat moments as I drove around town and stopped at all the spots I used to frequent. I had tears running down my face as I pulled up beside the house I grew up in only to see it's not been very well taken care of. It kind of surprised me that I even cared but as I sat there thinking about hanging Christmas lights with my mom, and getting in trouble when mom met me on the front steps after missing curfew that I realized that town and especially that house holds my childhood.
I drove away Wednesday afternoon with a renewed appreciation for the small town life I once despised so much and this time I did look in my rearview to see my past and finally make peace with how I left and with the town itself. I no longer look back with harsh thoughts of "everybody knows everything" and "there are always rumors" and "I just got my heart broke" those aren't the memories that came flooding back it was the sweet ones. Being the flowergirl in homecoming when I was in kindergarten, cheerleading and even captaining the squad my Jr and Sr. year, winning the school spelling bee, caring teachers, the whole town throwing me a pep rally when I got ready to compete at the state spelling bee, State Championship basketball games, walking into a restaurant in town and instantly knowing everyone in there, high school dances, riding to prom in some interesting cars, first loves and yes broken hearts that I eventually learned from, best friends and shared secrets that didn't stay secret long, crazy stunts we thought we got away with, and my mom being right there everytime I needed her. I realized after 10 years that high school was not as bad as it seemed at the time and I was so very blessed that my mom was always there anytime I needed her. I hope someday Carys will have the same memories of me being there anytime she needed me.