You’ll return to your hometown after your semester of college. You’ll carry with you the knowledge of a world you created all on your own away, from home, and a desire for a home -cooked mean. You’ll see local places and old friends and notice subtle differences, cracks that weren’t there before. You’ll be judged for the person you used to be—for your sloppiness, the rumors that were spread about you, the choices you made at 15—and not the person that you’ve become. For the first time in your life, the people who watched you grow into one person, don’t understand the changes you’ve made. You come home to the place that made you who you are, but for the first time in your life, that’s no longer how you few yourself. You leave with a full stomach but sad heart. You know you’re moving, and while that is ultimately good, you are experiencing the end of something.
You’ll return to your hometown to hide. You’ll call your parents, “I just need to see you,” you’ll whisper and take a flight alone. You’ll hand your mom your anxious, humbled heart and remember that you aren’t the adult you thought you were. You’ll take comfort in the way things remain the same—the same bagel store, the local diner, the sushi restaurant you worked at after totaling your car—and be thankful they’re the same. At the same time, you’ll see that more things are not. The house your best friend used to live in that now has new occupants, the road that you drove to school everyday on song and contemplate life is now under construction, the playground where you went after your first heart break was taken down. You’ll think of all the things you got through, and all the firsts and lasts these city limits at one time held. You’ll leave mourning a time period that has passed, but know that you can get through it this way, this time too.
You’ll return home in love. You’ll feel incredibly old and mature. When you pick him up at the train station, you’ll burst with adoration for someone from your new life. Who doesn’t know your humiliations, didn’t get to bear witness to the blossoming bruises that only come with high school. You’ll beam as you introduce this boy to your parents. As you show him places that have permanently changed you. A personal museum to the things that have created you. You’ll drive by your high school on a cold night and laugh about the things you thought would break you forever, you’ll stand on your high school turf and paint a story of a life that almost broke you, you’ll drive by houses and realize you don’t remember the people in them anymore. You’ll want to show him everything that made you you. You’ll think about the other person you loved within these city limits, and that realize that time is a physical barrier too.
You’ll return home ruined. You don’t get that internship you worked your ass off for, you fell out of love with your major, you just fell out of love. You’re drowning in inconsistency, uncertainty, and your own desires. Your life is not turning into what you thought it would and you are separating at the seams. You keep your head down and resent yourself for being in this position. You’ll realize you don’t know where to go, what to do. Home is not a comfort—it’s a mockery of where you never planned on coming back too.
You’ll return home in tragedy. You’ll see friends who have become strangers but are experiencing the same thought. That you are not invincible, that anything can change, that life has no certainty. You’ll feel the roots that you had tried so hard to forget and the life that continued when you were so busy trying to get out. You’ll shed tears and exchange hugs with people who used to know you and you’ll realize that you’re thankful for this place. That you will do more to remember it.
You’ll return home successful. Your path that was once so twisted is now successful. That dream job you’ve worked so hard for you finally have. You look and feel great. You will yourself to run into anyone who has ever made you feel inadequate. You hope you run into the kid who once made you cry at a party to show him how much farther you’ve come. You judge the ones who never left, you compete with the ones who did. You will turn your back on the place that raised you, proud of yourself for getting out. That all those years you dreamed of getting out have come to fruition. That’s what you’ll convince yourself to believe.
You’ll return home in happiness. You’ll see the life you’ve created for yourself and surprised by the ones others have created. You’ll give toasts at weddings in memory of who someone was in high school, you’ll cry at baby showers about how far you’ve come. You’ll look in the mirror and realize you are the person you used to pretend you were when you played “house” in middle school. You’ll begin to see the love you once had for this place, and those bruises pulse a little less. You made it out, but you’re surprised to find that you’re okay with keeping a little of yourself behind.
You return to your hometown over and over. Each time you are further than who you were but you develop an appreciation for whoever that person was—the relics of the town that changed you, shaped you, and made you. That the physical barrier of time has created an appreciation for who you were and who you are. Coming home means finding that peace. One day, you’ll come at peace.