Letters from Home

Squinting at the Past

So I’ve been home in the town where I grew up for a few days to visit my ailing Dad.

I am always relieved to get here, and feel it viscerally. But at the same time, my visits are filled with the anxiety of missing someone, letting someone down, not seeing enough of who and what needed to be seen and done.

And eaten, of course, too. Like Whitey’s Ice Cream, natch. And Mexican Food.

I was so happy to see, in person, my old friend Nicole, from high school. We hadn’t “seen” each other since high school days, even though we’ve been emailing and facebooking for a year.

I almost missed her, actually. She and my sister, Mary, go to swimming practice together with their daughters. I hummed and hawwed about going to meet Mary for some swim practice. I really just wanted to stay close by Dad. But Mary said, “You gotta come! Your friend is here!”

It was great to see her… We’re old friends and good friends, not just acquaintances.

Still whenever I come home — even though I have been doing it for half my life — i still find it hard to gauge what others really need from me. I don’t have a sense that they REALLY miss me if I have been away so long. If we haven’t been in contact much, how can I judge accurately how much you might really want to see me for those 3 days or so when I have arrived.

Is it curiosity? Loneliness? The desire to feel acknowledged? I wish I understood.

I felt badly when Nicole and I parted. I felt like I hadn’t given her enough time. I felt like she wanted more from me. I felt like a person who walks away in the middle of someone else talking.

I feel that way whenever I visit someplace I’ve left behind. Revisiting the past is like trying to find a younger version of yourself in the mirror — you just can’t seem to see yourself anymore. ¬†You squint, lift your head and look around.

It’s not there, but something is.

The mission to recapture is always unsuccessful. And yet, we try, try again.

Eventually, I hope to just accept what is right here in front of me.

2 thoughts on “Squinting at the Past

  1. I hear you on this. My hometown exerts an inexorable pull on me. Moving away has been so hard and we tried to move back, but waited too long for the perfect circumstances and missed the window.

    Leaving does feel like walking away “in the middle of someone else talking.”

  2. Last line especially well stated…I have similar struggles…maybe with more lonely attached.

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