Brett and Louise have both done posts about going home recently. You can’t every really go home… maybe you actually can. All hail the conquering hero, right? The prodigal son. The prodigal daughter.
The prodigal… writer??? Who could have ever imagined that?
Recapturing our youth is an impossibility; finding a path back through the jumble of memories, to the sweet, steady heartbeat of love and friendship we received, the good times, the bad times, all get tempered with age. We forget the details and the edges blur. Five years go by and your core group of friends fall off, ten years and you’re only talking to a few, fifteen, twenty…
Thank God for Facebook, right? The opportunity to reconnect with all your old friends (and enemies, and exes, and teachers) and dredge up all those old horrid memories and resurrect the sweet ones, both of which get amplified into nearly mythical proportions.
I’ve taken care this tour to match up with old friends. I had lunch with a friend from elementary school who’s now a major voiceover actor in Los Angeles. In Denver, I had dinner with one of my best friends from high school and my best friend from elementary school, and my first boyfriend (yes, we were in kindergarten. What about it?) In D.C., I’m staying with the other best friend from high school. The memories are flowing fast and furious, and I’m opening myself up to a whole world I’d put out out of my mind.
Moving away from home changes a woman. My parents moved me around just a bit. We had several homes in Colorado, but the Great Schism happened when they moved me from Colorado to D.C. when I was fourteen. I moved from the land of forests and 4H clubs to the denizens of society, began rubbing shoulders with the sons and daughters of the elite class in D.C., the politicians kids. It wasn’t an easy transition (and probably why you can drop me into most any cocktail party across the board and I’ll happily makes friends with the closest smile.)
I went to high school in D.C. After a disastrous first year in a small Florida college, I transferred to Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. I wanted to go on in the political arena, and decided against Harvard so I could live at home for free and attend GW. Met the hubby that first night of classes, and he turned my world upside down when we eventually moved to Nashville.
I haven’t been back to D.C. for twelve years. And here I am, doing signings, riding around in cars with boys, signing stock in bookstores, drinking in pool halls, allowing the memories to creep back in. I’d forgotten how much I love this place. When we moved to Tennessee, I wasn’t happy, but I tried to hide that because I knew my husband was. And then I fell for it: the beauty, the dichotomies, the very differentness of it. Eventually, I was totally in love with Nashville, and I began to view D.C. with the same sort of horrified reverence as I do most things in my past – a world that happened to another person.
Kind of hard to separate past from present when you’re looking through your yearbook and laughing yourself into tears at the pictures, the memories, the genuine happiness. You know?
As you can imagine, I am much relieved.
My senior year annual was called YOU WANNA WHAT? I helped design the cover, a compilation of question marks and exclamation points. (This is not a surprise to those who know me, I am a fool for a well-placed exclamation point…) This is what the title means:
YOU WANNA WHAT?!
You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. If it means going to the moon or getting an A on your English exam. The choice is yours; your interests and dreams grow during your time here and you leave with an idea of where you are going. Look around you and enjoy yourself. Do it all; varsity letter, straight A’s, anything you want. Now is the time, before you grow up. Don’t let anyone discourage you, if when you tell them your goals, they ask in an astonished and impressed tone; YOU WANNA WHAT?
I wonder, if that hadn’t been the theme of my life during those formative years, if I would have done some of the things I have? No one ever said no, you can’t. They only said yes, you can. Yes, you will. Yes, I believe.
Full circle. It’s a strange, strange feeling.
Okay, Murderati – what were you in high school? Happy? Sad? Most likely to succeed? Most likely to think cheerleaders were brainless twits and dye your hair, or date and marry them? Insider? Outsider? Sidewinder? Druggie, freak, band geek, theater geek, radio club, debate, athlete, Honor Society??? Share. (I wasn’t anything. I was a track geek, I guess, an athlete first and foremost, but I floated like a firefly between all the groups, with a friend or two in each clique.)
Because apparently, you can go home again.
Wine of the Week: Lemon Drops and Red Headed Sluts. Don’t ask….