March 27, 2009

back in my day...

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to visit the town I grew up in: Manson, Washington. A tiny apple farming town on a beautiful lake, surrounded by snowy mountains. I have found my mind going back to Manson quite a lot lately. I remember how simple everything was and how easy it was to be happy. I am not sure if it was the town itself or my wonderfully enjoyable childhood, but I am beginning to realize it may not have been as simple and easy as I thought.

When I first moved to Chicago I thought this is where I belong. The big city. I thought I was cut out for a world of "culture," art, music, constant movement, noise, and people. I thought that I would never be happy in a small town again. I actually forgot Manson existed. Until this last year. I'm not sure if it is the fact that I am once again living in Washington or if I am maturing to the point where I am seeing my youth through a new lens, but I can't stop thinking about it.

Going "home" was an interesting experience for several reasons: the first being that I hadn't been there for about five years, the second being the fact that I hadn't been there with my sister in thirteen years, and the third being that I had the opportunity to bring my one year old nephew with me. It was a strange mix of youthful memories and startling realizations of maturity. I am not a child anymore, and it became blatantly clear the moment I started driving my sisters sleeping child past my old house. I felt very emotional, happy, sad, overwhelmed at the fact that I was not the kid asleep in the backseat waiting for my parents to get me home. I thought about how much I have been through since that moment. I thought about how much things have changed and whether my parents thought the same thing when they were driving me around their home towns.

I think one of the things that struck me was thinking about the complexities that I never noticed. I drove around a place that was so full of memories, yet with the feeling that I had never seen any of it before. I saw the poverty, the small shacks that generations of families lived in, and realized for the first time what it meant to live there. When I was a kid I didn't understand what it was like for the families of the kids I went to school with. I didn't understand the extent of the poverty or the wealth of the tourists that juxtaposed it. I am amazed at the things I never noticed. I was amazed at the beauty that I took for granted. I was upset by the new wealth and "summer homes" that surrounded my old house and playgrounds.

I suppose the point to this is that I'm still young, but I think for the first time I really understand what it feels like to be getting older. It was that moment where I could hear my eighty year old voice saying, "back in my day..."


linea said...

:) i love you popeye

Curt said...

We are all drawn "home" sooner or later in life. Maybe thats why your father drags you back to the farm when ever he can, to be able to hold your hand, shut his eyes and take you back in time with him. love you - pop

scarce said...

doesnt memory have such a wildly censored viewer

nampook said...

no matter how long i've been away
returning to a place called home
brings a certain calmness unmatched
by anywheres else. place chicago