A couple of weeks ago, I went “home” to Connecticut in order to celebrate the college graduation of my niece Sarah. Except it’s not really home anymore, of course. After I spent my first five years in northern Maine, I spent the next 25 years in Connecticut, and have now been in Virginia for the last 25. Why yes, that does add up to 55. I am old. But it also means I will soon have lived in Virginia more than anywhere else.
While I was in CT, I drove back to the area where I actually grew up. With a sister who remains a resident of CT, and the fun of visiting old friends always making it worth the trip, I’ve been back many times to CT over the years. I don’t always go back to Southington, though – mostly I stay in my sister’s town and the surrounding area. This trip, though, we drove around a few of the places of our childhood, and things looked and felt very different to me. Trees are way bigger. I almost forgot one of the turns. We drove up the driveway of our elementary school. It was next to where we lived and we used to actually walk home for lunch and then back to school after lunch. Yes – off the school campus and back. Weird. We drove into the mobile home park next door — where we grew up. It had always felt like a large, safe playground. We were free to roam around the “park” and into the woods next to the park. The “woods” (area of trees between the park and the school) is now all cleared away. I remember playing there – and the trees felt dense and large and even a bit spooky at times. The neighborhood kids and I built forts, climbed trees, and did lots of normal childhood things (at least for the sixties) I would have been nervous about letting my own kids do. The grassy area in its place is nice and neat, but it makes me a bit sad to have the mystery cleared away.
Me at about 10 with my younger sister
I clocked the mileage of one of my furthest bus stops. I had imagined it was at least a mile away – sorry, memory – it was only a 1/2 mile. Still – a bus stop a half mile away from home. Does that even happen now? I remember the biting winds and walking it in the winter and waiting. And waiting. The bus seemed to take a very long time.
I drove past the church I got married in – a half a mile down that road I grew up on. It seems so small. It IS so small.
My favorite pizza place in the next town over is not impressive from the outside. Few out-of-towners would suspect that their pizza would be enough to cause me to drive miles to get my annual taste of delicious “real” pizza.
Across town, I drove by my husband’s childhood home. It’s been yellow for a few years now – no longer the mossy green it was at the time. The trees there are large, too. We had attended the same high school, never met (different “circles” traveled) and met 3 months after graduating high school at our place of employment. I picked him up for our first date in front of this house – since his car had gotten smashed the previous week. (Should I go to the front door? No – here he comes. Awkwardness. I think I drove. 🙂 He cooked me my first tacos on my next trip to this house. I was introduced to his sisters that time. And this is one of the places I slowly fell in love with the young man who has became my forever love.
Traveling through towns with trees grown big and buildings grown small (or so it seems) – it’s fun to do this with the person who shared it all. My sister – the one who listens and confides (well, when I stop talking long enough for her to get a word in) – and makes all those miles along I-81 so worth the drive. Phone calls are great – but time together is extra-great.