08 August 2014


I always pictured a drawstring purse when I imagined heartstrings.  Being an imaginative, not linear, thinker, that's just the picture my brain conjured: a bag to hold your feelings and memories. Now I think of it, the word seems more like a musical instrument; the heartstrings thrumming.  I looked up the actual meaning and it's much less poetic.  (they're an actual thing)

Why am I waxing so poetic, you ask?  Am I writing for the Hallmark company?  Nope, just thinking.

A few months ago I met two friends from high school in my hometown. It seems like I've made more trips there recently, with memorials, visits, and business.  It's only natural, I suppose, these things happen as you age.  I'm afraid that I've reached that stage in life: where I'm attending more memorials than weddings and birthdays.

It's not a town that really has a draw to it, unless you're from there and something calls you back.  It's just an old logging town with a Wild Western feel to it. It's a cute, old-fashioned, main street town that one passes through, not necessarily travels to.

Two of my high school friends who moved away after high school recently mentioned how nice of a town it is and how nice it was to return for a visit.  A few of my other friends treat it as if it's been filled with zombies and vow to not return unless required to do so. I was somewhere in the middle: I stayed behind a few years after high school then, once gone, rarely returned.

My dad and brothers went to school at the same high school I did. I went to school there for six years (including middle school, I'm not a repeater. haha)  and lived there almost two years afterward.  I had some really horrible experiences and some really great ones too.  I grew up there, both chronologically and emotionally.  Now that time has passed, the bad times have faded and the good times are creeping forward a little more readily. The town holds a lot of history.

I feel pulled toward the town now.  I think it's a combination of wanting roots and feeling comfortable in my own skin again.  I've always had these things but as I've gotten older and lost people, I think I might be seeking them out more than before. Having old friends move home again is probably responsible for this feeling as well.

It's not easy though, returning.  Old, bad memories have to be faced.  My old apartment is run-down now.  I can still drive to the house where someone lived who broke my heart when I was sixteen.  I'm not friends with one of my BFF's anymore.  Those ghosts wander around town a bit still.

Then I'm reminded of the good times.  Having parties at that apartment, skipping school to see that guy, cruising town when you've just gone to rent a video (so old!) or pick up groceries. One friend worked at auto parts store, another at a dentist office.  The apartment was a block away from where one of my friends grew up, other friends houses were just five minutes (at the most) away.  All of the parents still live in their houses, just the kids have moved away. 

I think if a person stays in their hometown, these things are faced earlier and just become  part of the scenery.  But for us folks that left town and rarely looked back, it can be like experiencing it all over again.

As if the universe wanted to prove my theory, our cousin stopped by for a visit last night.  She moved away years ago and rarely returns.  She spent yesterday visiting old memories and taking photos.  She mentioned, not knowing that I was working on this post, how emotionally strange it is to go back and visit old homes, schools, friends.    She was surprised at what memories were brought forward by this little trip down memory lane. It was in some ways comforting and others upsetting.

This really has no point other than going home again can be a strange experience.

And that heartstrings are quite literally that.

1 comment:

Swistle said...

When I moved back to my hometown after a decade away, I felt almost haunted at first by all the weird memory feelings. That's mostly faded by now, but I'll still get twinges: there's the rock my boyfriend and I used to sit on, there's the ice cream shop where my friend and I split a pint of brownies-and-cream ice cream, etc.

The weirdest to me was going back into my old high school---but as a parent this time instead of as a student. That STILL feels weird.