Wednesday, February 27, 2013
When I was 15 I wanted to live in New York City. I wished it, I dreamed it. I imagined being grown up (21 or 22 probably- "old" at that time), and walking around in my adult clothes, doing adult things, all on my own. Later after graduating from college I was all ready to move to Japan to teach English, thoughts of Tokyo and big buildings and things I had only seen in photographs swirling around my mind. I dreamed of big places, big cities, but the older I got, and the more I traveled, the more I realized that what my heart yearned for was quite the opposite.
And now here I am in this small town. This town that I write about all the time, the town I love so much, and really, the last place I ever thought I would call home. Once in college Shirley and I had to take my car to get fixed, and the closest place to our college town of Flagstaff that serviced my type of car happened to be in Prescott (wherever that was, we said). I remember that first time I saw downtown- for some reason it almost seemed like an old Western movie- in my memory there are false storefronts and far less people out than I'm sure there were. I just remember thinking about what a tiny place it was, even smaller than the town I grew up in, and how weird it was to be there. Shirley and I actually ended up getting lost for hours, with her her subsequently being late for her first day of work at new job because of those godforsaken name-changing roads, but we made it back eventually, laughing about our day in that strange little place.
So later when I met Hank I had to smile when he told me it was where he was born and raised. To me it was just that town Shirley and I spent an afternoon in, driving in circles. But little by little I became enamored with it. The drive up became therapeutic, full of trees and mountains and fresh air. We spent so much time walking around downtown, around the square, and maybe it was because I was falling in love, or maybe it was because it's just that wonderful, but I never grew sick of it. And now almost eight years later it's still just as exciting.
I love so much about this slow little life- our quiet weekends, doing the same kinds of things we always do. We visit the same restaurants we've called our favorites for years, being greeted by name when we walk in, looked at in surprise if we change up our usual order. We can't go anywhere without running into at least one person we know (sometimes annoying, most times charming), and it's refreshing to really feel involved in the community. And of course small town living has its funny perks too: special collections at Target are always in stock, the rail seat at the movies is almost always guaranteed, and friends always want to come visit to "get away from it all" (especially Phoenix friends who want to escape the heat come summer!).
Sometimes I wonder if it's this place, or if it's Hank and Henry, but this little town has become one of my favorite places in the world. It's funny, isn't it, how our idea of home shifts as we grow. How somewhere we could have never imagined calling home, slowly becomes the one place we couldn't ever imagine leaving. How sometimes big cities can feel small too (I know this to be true). And in Hank's case, how sometimes the place we grew up is the place we will grow old. Home is a magical idea, sometimes just one place for one person, or many places for another. And sometimes we just know it's home the moment we step foot inside, be it a town, a house, or someone's arms.
I'd love to hear your "home" stories. Where do you live? Where did you want to live growing up? Where do you call home? I look forward to reading your responses!