Since my brother, sister, and I are no longer home all the time, my mom and dad have stopped cooking. Because they’ve stopped cooking, that also means they’ve stopped buying groceries consistently. I imagine this saves them a nice bit of cash. But whenever one of us comes home for a break we have to go grocery shopping again and restock the perpetually bare cabinets. This leads to my least favorite part of break: going to the supermarket.
I hate this part of break for two reasons: 1) I’ve always hated shopping with my mom because she buys more than she needs and stays for at least 2 hours and 2) I will almost invariably see someone I grew up with. 2 is bad because I am admittedly not the most sociable person and therefore seeing people I know but didn’t intend to interact with can be a stressful endeavor, depending on my mood. But every once in a while, I’ll go someplace I like or run into someone I don’t feel awkward around and it reminds me of why I love my hometown. So I’ll share some of those things with you.
I was driving around town with my dad and I realized that I have a memory from almost any spot in town. Since I moved here when I was three, my first memory is from pre-school at the Seventh Day Adventist school. I remember telling a peer that I hated my middle name, I remember telling that same girl that the proper phrase was “it doesn’t matter” not “it doesn’t care” as she was arguing. I remember eating lunch in the gym and singing songs about Jesus and eating blueberries and learning about the Rapture. I remember having a major role in a play, much to my parents surprise, and I remember singing about…something. Around the same time, I remember climbing into my sister’s playpen all the time and I would just play with her. My parents would tell me not to but I didn’t care. I felt like an action hero whenever I climbed in there.
Then Kindergarten started. I was best friends with two girls, Megan and Leigh Ann (I think that’s how she spelled it). That’s when I had my first boyfriend. By first grade, I entered a new friend group as I was becoming more of a tomboy. I would sit under the jungle gym and dig up worms to prove I wasn’t afraid and I would play dodge ball and get everyone out, or save the whole team. My new best friend, Brandon, taught me a whole slew of curses which I was then smart enough to save only for school and never use at home. There, I told a boy I wanted to marry him and he told me that he might marry me when we got older (still holding out for that one). Second grade was the same type of stuff. I got my first D and cried. I cried a few times during the next two years. Around the same time, our cousins came over and we swam in the town pool. I would jump off the big diving board so I could swim in the deep end, to impress my big brother and older cousins. The summer before third grade I went to camp with my brother and that’s where I met my newest best friend, Kathleen.
By fourth grade I was still a tomboy and my new best friend, Chris, was a guy and everyone accused us of liking each other (I did like him). He wrote these really cool short stories. In fifth grade I was the class clown/teacher’s pet and I made it to the school spelling bee (choked on the word ‘school’). At this point, I was a huge potty mouth, cursing like a sailor, and I got my newest best friend, Dionna (a girl I’m still friends with now) to join me in my irreverent language. We would walk home from school together and pass the elementary school so we would usually stop and play on the jungle gym for a little bit with my younger sister and her younger brother while we waited for my parents to pick us up.
Middle school was invariably awkward because it always is. At this point I had another best friend, Earnestine, because my previous one had gotten a new one too. In addition, I had this new guy best friend, Thor, (I didn’t like him) who was funny but in a really mean and disrespectful way. So I’ll fast forward through middle school. By the end, my brother had graduated from high school and started college. That was hard since he was always the only person I could really talk to about stuff.
In high school, I dropped my previous guy best friend (we had a huge falling out) and kept a fairly low profile. I still had my girl best friend so it wasn’t too bad. One kind of silly memory from high school always sticks out to me. I was with my new guy best friend, Mike, and the guy I hosted my radio show with, Dan, (I had a radio show in high school. I bet you didn’t expect that ;)) and we went to White Castle to see if we could finish the crave case with 30 burgers. We were so dumb. Mike drove me and Dan drove himself. After failing miserably at eating all the burgers, Dan left and Mike and I just sat in the booth and talked. We sat there because Mike was too full to get up and drive. So we just sat and talked and had a chill time. I don’t know what we talked about but I’m sure it wasn’t really important. It was just such a cool moment to live in. And I remember it every time I pass White Castle.
I’m not really friends with those guys anymore. I’m not friends with most people from high school anymore. But all of this nostalgia has made me realize how much I really do miss some of those friendships. I’m still friends with my last two female best friends but most of the other people who are in my memories don’t even know me anymore. I just found out my Kindergarten best friend, Megan, de-friended me on FB. I don’t blame her though. People change and grow apart. And we aren’t best friends anymore. We never were. None of those people were ever my best friend. And I was never theirs.
One day, probably within the next 5-7 years, I’ll go visit my parents in some town I don’t know. It’ll be a place where not every road brings up a memory for me, a city that isn’t quite the right size. They’ll live in a house without a backyard full of memories on a street that doesn’t curve in quite the particular way that ours did. I won’t have a room that reminds me of the time I wet the bed or the time when my sister and I would build forts between our beds. There will be pictures and photo albums and diplomas on the walls. It will seem like it’s full of memories. But those will only be memories of memories. And it won’t be the same. But that’s OK.