Coming Home

Prospect Park in Providence, RI


Let me start by making one thing clear: I know I’m lucky. I’m lucky the home I grew up in is still my home. I’m lucky my parents haven’t moved. I’m lucky they let me play this waiting game in the comfort of my home.

But homecomings are never what you expect, and this homecoming feels particularly foreign.

I’m wandering around the town I grew up in with no job, no plans, no idea where I’m going. It’s the first summer where September doesn’t mean anything definitive. I’m back in a small city that feels smaller every day.

My fractured sidewalks have been paved over, yet the streets are more potholed than ever. Every street corner is a scraped knee and a broken tooth, a water bottle of purloined liquor, a heavy conversation in heavier humidity, a love lost. The smell of the neighbor’s charcoal grill and fresh tree clippings: everything and nothing has changed.

There’s no sign of the unruly boys come to shed their shirts and inhibitions (as if they ever had any). No hope of a kiss in the street as the party continues uncompromisingly upstairs. Us restless girls can waste all the gas we want driving the dark streets and still no new mysteries will be unveiled. And everywhere I go I glimpse the ghosts of reassuring faces.

Which is not to say that I’m feeling so dejected or sorry-for-myself as I sound. These days I’m happy to have a cold beer and good conversation.

All this stumbling over words and waxing nostalgic is just to say that it’s just now hitting me that home will never be the place it was. Now home is fitful nights of sleep, dreaming of all the usual suspects in the usual places. In dreams we move like pins on paper, carrying out tactical missions from wars past; our military game is to see what might have been. But now it’s time for what will be instead.

Here’s to hoping I find new streets to call my own and can lay this town’s memories to rest.

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