Going Back

They say you can never go home.

Spent three and a half days in Erie.

My hometown - where I was born and raised, where my families still reside, where my high school girlfriends remain, where old acquaintances linger and old boyfriends fade. Erie is where I spent my childhood at the beach. It's where my parents divorced when I was twelve. It's where I graduated high school. It's where I helped my grandparents in the vineyards. It's where my families' dogs are buried. It's where my dad is buried. It's a place that is infused with a myriad of memories and emotions - the bad blending with the good and the real blurring with the fake.

It's a place that I visit with high hopes and excited anticipation, only to be disillusioned when I finally get there. My brain idealizes and romanticizes my hometown, clouding my memories with a rosy fog. On my way there, I secretly hope nothing will have changed. And then realize upon arrival that everything has changed, and yet, still nothing has changed. It's a sad feeling. It's a feeling of disappointment and displacement.

Until I am standing in front of her, my brain only regards my mom as a smart, funny, independent woman. I forget that my mom is distant and private and always has been. I forget that my nana and papa can't remember they've told me the same news several times in the span of one day. I forget that they constantly repeat themselves. Until I'm seated at their kitchen table, I remember only their kindness and generosity and forget their prejudices and intolerance. Until I'm driving in the car with my sister, I think of her as invincible and forget that she has been deeply wounded.

I forget that when I'm with my girlfriends, it's not just the three of us anymore. I remember staying out all night dancing or partying on the boat or biking and kayaking at the peninsula. I forget that they have husbands and fianc├ęs and children and houses and dogs and obligations. I remember the house where I grew up and forget that my stepmom has remodeled it so that she can forget. I remember people who I once cared about, who I was too busy to see or who were too busy to see me and I forgot that life goes on - with or without you.

It's a mixed bag. Going "home". It's smiling and laughing and hugging. It's hanging out at the Sloppy Duck and having lunch at Rum Runners. It's a drive down to the dock and a stroll through the vineyards. It's talking and thinking and crying. It's discovering old home-movies and photos. It's eating fresh corn on the cob and frozen vanilla custard. It's lounging on the beach and jumping through the waves. It's fun times and frustrating times and depressing times. It's a confrontation with reality. It's a confrontation with myself.

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