Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You can't go home again...

...unless you have a really, really good sense of direction.

Late Friday night, after driving for two full days, I pulled off of the highway and into my hometown. The town I grew up in. The town I was lucky enough to be forced to escape when I fell in love with a man who had wings on his heart.

It was a clear night but the roads were dark. Very dark. Dark and winding and the most impossible roads to navigate you could ever imagine. These are the roads that horror movie victims traverse in unease.

And I turned the wheel and stepped on the gas and drove across town by memory.

Whenever I come back to the town that my parents call their own, I am shocked at what I left behind. Did I really drive my little, red 1984 Ford Tempo down these skinny streets in the dark and rain and snow? Did I really pump gas there, and go swimming there, and go parking there? Did I ever really think of this place as home?

It's not home now.

It would kill my parents to know that. Even the dusty, haunted halls of my husband's Cape Cod house feel more like home to me.

This town is filled with commuters who drive their cars or take the commuter rail into Boston everyday for work. Yet I rarely went to the city in all the years I lived here. It was a scary place, I was told. A place you should never go alone. A place with impossible traffic. A place that was dirty, stinking, and not worth the stress of getting there.

On Monday, Patrick and I spent the morning in Boston. And I walked the streets and the commons and saw my city in a way I've never seen it before. I took a deep breath and blew out the stress that my parents instilled and I really enjoyed Boston for the first time in my life. Now I get why people want to visit here.

I had felt like Patrick had made a gift of New York for me. And now I feel like he's made a gift of Boston for me too. Boston. My own city. A tourist had to give me that.

What a waste.

If I can wrench my children away from my parents and my brother's new pool, I'd like to give them that gift too.

But maybe the gift isn't the city itself. But a love of exploration. A love of discovering new things. A love of adventure and travel.

And the roots of a heart-based home to which they can always return.

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