You can always go home again, but it won’t always be the same as it was the last time you were there.
When I was growing up, I remember going to the pool a lot. Summers were spent floating around, jumping off the diving board, and ordering milkshakes from the snack stand. If you were really hungry, you could order full meals to be delivered from the grill (you just had to make sure you remembered your parents’ club account number). As I got older, I would take friends out there and we would spend lazy days in the sun until we eventually had to go to work (for me, it was Blockbuster, if that tells you anything about my age).
It was an entirely new ballgame going back there this weekend with my two-year-old son. Gone are the milkshakes (but they do have a slushies!). Gone are the days spent in beach chairs, listening to whatever music was blasting out of the speakers. Instead, I spent my time chasing Sawyer around the kiddie pool, wondering just what percentage of the water was actually urine and worrying about swimmer’s ear with all the splashing he was doing. I spent my time putting him in his puddle jumper (and taking it off, and putting it on again, and off, and so on). I got out of breath trying to blow up a beach ball, gave up halfway through, and figured he wouldn’t care anyway.
Yet not much has actually changed about the physical makeup of the pool itself. A slide has been added and the chairs replaced, but overall, it looked how I remembered it. Even the locker room was the same and you still had to sign-in at a faded binder just inside the gate.
The same experience goes for the local history museum. I remember when the children’s level was added to the basement of the museum. It was odd taking Sawyer there to play knowing I had once led haunted tours through there at Halloween time.
I won’t even talk about the devastation of my favorite hot dog place (conveniently located in a gas station close to my parent’s house) closing down.
I always have this picture of home in my mind and the older I get the more I realize that that image doesn’t really exist anymore. And the parts that do exist, I can’t see the same because so much of myself has changed.
Taking Sawyer to the places I grew up in was such a weird, almost out-of-body experience; these layers of memory overlapping each other and getting tangled together. It was like being pulled in two directions, how things were and how things are. I’m so thankful I got to share those things with him, but I also want to make sure I don’t become one of those parents who is constantly comparing things to “back in my day.”
Despite all of these changes, I’m thankful for the few constants that remain:
- Giovanni’s Pizza will always taste the same and be my favorite pizza. I will argue with anyone on this. Vehemently.
- If it’s decent weather outside, my dad will find some job to tinker with.
- At some point, birds will get into a fight on the bird feeder outside (usually the blue jays, sometimes the woodpeckers).
- Everything is about a seven-minute drive from wherever you are, no matter which road you take.
- The train still goes by ridiculously early and it can be heard all the way at my parents’ house.
- My parents won’t believe me when I say I double checked and that everything got packed up (for good reason, I almost always forget something).
- I will be sent back home with bags of extra food and snacks (that will go bad if I somehow don’t take it with me).
But whether it’s sweeping changes or a state of perpetual sameness, I’m thankful for the feeling of home when I go back there, no matter how much it or I change.