Robert Frost said, in his poem, “The Death of the Hired Hand”, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Luckily for me, I’m just back on a temporary basis. Two weeks in my old stomping grounds, visiting family and friends who, so far, seem glad to see me. This is my second trip back, and even though it’s only been 16 months since I was here last, things seem to have changed everywhere I look.
One of my many kind and generous friends, Craig, loaned me his car, which he assures me he hardly drives. My son is acting as my chauffeur while I’m here, because he drives stick and let’s simply say I don’t. No need to burden you with the ugly details of my attempts at driving stick-shift.
In the last six days, in the course of visits and errands, we have driven past a million memories. It seems there’s hardly a street that doesn’t hold some piece of my past. And now I live 3,000 miles away and call another city home. I know some people are not big on change, but I’m still so glad I made the leap.
Something I hadn’t considered when I moved away, was exactly what a big change I was making. When you move to a city where virtually no one knows your name, you’re presented with an opportunity for a fresh start. I was a blank slate to everyone I met, as were they to me, and the amusing thing is that most of my new friends are also making a new beginning. I have in a sense reinvented myself, hopefully as a much kinder, gentler version of me, and perhaps they have done the same.
Now I’m back where people know me, warts and all, and in some ways it feels as if I never left, as if the last twenty months were a dream. Then I’ll turn a corner and everything looks strange. The trees are taller, familiar landmarks have disappeared and new ones have taken their place. But the faces of my friends and family are the same, which makes me happy. There is a new face, too, that of my niece’s new little daughter, and she’s so beautiful! I was holding her in front of me, cradling her head in my hands and sweet talking her, when she began to tell me a story. She was waving her arms around, sticking out her tongue and using every expression in her repertoire. All the while she was looking intently into my eyes. It was a real conversation, even though only she and I will ever know what we talked about. Suffice it to say that she now owns my heart. New babies are the best!