Wide-eyed, I dreamed of the bright lights and big city. I resented my “townie” status. I saw my future if I didn’t make a break for it soon: I’d be sitting on my porch 70 years from now, the neighborhood children whispering, “There she is. I heard she’s lived here since this town was founded.” Yes, if I didn’t run away, the rows of yellow cornfields would gobble me up. But my father’s death changed my outlook. I suddenly found myself reluctant to leave this place I’ve called home for some 32 years. Because, really, my hometown wasn’t just some random place I lived. It was my life. My life with my father.
To this day, there are too many memories here, memories that are still fresh in my mind. My father is with me every time I enter the library. That library smell, the noise of people rustling books – it all takes me back to my carefree childhood. My parents were big library supporters, so by the time I was 7, I thought all children went to the library twice a week. The children’s department quickly became my home, and my father spent hours building elaborate scenes in the toy castle, or helping me find the perfect picture book. When I got a bit older, he was never embarrassed to reach for the low shelf and read me every title in The Baby-sitter’s Club series. The library was a warm place, full of friendly librarians, and I can’t help thinking my time there planted the writer seed in me. I get a bit nostalgic every time we drive down our city’s busiest street and catch a glimpse of my favorite childhood parks. My father became a big kid on the playground, and I spent many a happy hour swinging from the tire swing until I became dizzy. In the fall, my mother became obsessed with seeing the leaves change color. So we’d make our pilgrimage to admire the red, orange and yellow leaves falling to the ground. We’d hear the crackle of crunching leaves under our feet as we walked along the grounds, and I often wondered just how many leaves covered the whole park.
There’s a sense of comfort here that I don’t think I could find anywhere else. And it’s comforting to know — to feel — that my father is still here with me. His memory is alive in all the places we’ve been, all the things we’ve done. This is home. I’m home. It’s good to be home.
[Photos via We Heart It]