In a few days, I’m going home. Just typing those words evoke more nostalgia than my Teddy Ruxpin bear, cabbage patch kids, sleepovers, first car, subsequent first wreck (Louisiana used to give you a license at 15, what in the all out….), first boyfriend, prom, graduation, all combined. Especially since I lived in the same house since I was in 7th grade. Almost nothing is the same, yet for some reason I get all misty eyed the more things change. My high school has been renovated to accommodate double the students, yet it seems much smaller than I remember. The bank I worked at right after I graduated was bought out years ago. The roads that were once surrounded by trees and the occasional gas station is now miles of stores and restaurants with bumper to bumper traffic. Highways are widened, shopping malls are changed to churches, and areas I drove hundreds of times look foreign and unfamiliar. The entire city feels like a scrapbook where everyone can see the backdrop, but I am the only one that can see the pictures. The parking lot I learned to drive a stick shift, the house my best friend used to live in, the pier I used to go to with my friends when I skipped school. Even my childhood home seems to stand as a caricature of what it once was.
When you’re little you dream of growing up (whatever that means), going to college, becoming that thing/person you always said you would be one day, getting married, having a kid or three (more than that is just ludicrous), and maybe even a dog. Never a cat because nobody has time for that. But then life happens. The real life, not the one you assumed you would have, but the one God said you needed. I once dreamed of Sunday dinners at my parents house with the kids playing in the garage with all of Papa’s toys, riding four wheelers until the Louisiana state birds (mosquitos) nearly took us away. My big, goofy brother would be there too, with his wife and kids who obviously grew up with mine and were the best of friends. The crawfish boils would be plentiful except for my mom, she always gets shrimp. I don’t know when I realized my white-picket-fence fantasy was not going to happen. Or maybe it did…Just drastically different than what I expected.
I never expected to meet a handsome soldier at a bar with my fake ID. My momma said you’d never meet the person you’re going to marry in a bar. In general, she’s right, but I’m so glad she was wrong this time. We tried telling people we met at church camp but then realized since he’s so much older, he would have had to be my counselor, and, well…that’s creepy. I never knew someone could make me fall in love with him from, “What’s your name?” Our story hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s my favorite and I wouldn’t change it for the world. He whisked me away to far away places (not even cool ones) even though it never occurred to me I would not live in the same town my whole life. We have been together 16 years and, as I type this, I live over 1,000 miles away. I told him when we got married that I would follow him anywhere, and I still mean it. Love does crazy things to your plans.
I never took into account that babies would be a struggle to bring into this world, or that the loss would still hurt 10 years later. I also saw motherhood much less of a hot mess and more Donna Reed, except with yoga pants and a messy bun, of course. I would cook amazing dinners and be the best wife ever (I don’t know what that even means), and we would spend evenings doing crafts or having family game nights. While we do those things, occasionally, they usually don’t end well, especially the dinners. And with a son that has autism and about 5 foods he’ll eat…Well I’m glad I met hubs after he had already spent years on his own, therefore he can fend for himself. And as for those crafts, at the moment my two boys are running through the house in their underwear in what looks like an attempt to kill each other. I’m hoping they’re just playing, but the last thing I would do right now is hand them some scissors. I learned my lesson with glitter a long time ago.
I never expected my parents to get a divorce after almost 40 years of marriage. I told them they should have just done it when I was in 4th grade like my friend’s parents did. No family get togethers will ever be quite the same. I’m still settling in to my new normal.
Even the event I am going home for is quite different than what I imagined. A family member is getting married and the drama is in full force. The bride will be beautiful, the wedding will be perfect, but someone’s feeling will inevitably get hurt.
My husband doesn’t like it when I call the city I grew up in, “home”. He likes to remind me that I’m married now and my home is with him, my rambunctious boys, and our 2 aging, incontinent weinie dogs…bless their little hearts. But if they pee on my rug one more time….
My life is good. I have all the material things I could want, a wonderful man and the cutest boys I know (notice I didn’t say most well behaved). I am blessed enough to have been a nurse for the last 10 years and even more blessed that I get to stay home with my boys during their challenges we never saw coming. I live by the ocean in the cutest farmhouse ever. The snakes can suck it but I have yet to see a mouse. I have met some of the nicest people in the last 8 months that I can see being lifelong friends. But I won’t make too many plans for the future. I think the saying goes that we make plans, and God laughs. So as I go to pack in anticipation of seeing family and celebrating a marriage, I’m even excited I get to stay in my childhood house. But my heart is here. It’s uncertain at times and it’s always crazy but it’s mine. And if all else fails, at least I have cute kids…and I don’t own a cat.