Friday, September 4, 2009

Downtown, Hometown

It's not necessary to go far and wide.
You can really find exciting and inspiring things
within your hometown.
-Daryl Hannah

Looks like something from a movie, doesn't it? But no. It's just the town where I grew up. I drove through downtown on my way to the post office last Saturday as the sun came up, feeling like the only one in town awake and about. It was strange to see it so empty. Seemed awkward yet intimate somehow, like peeking in your boss's medicine cabinet or glimpsing a clown putting on his makeup.

I swore I would never come back here. Swore, swore, swore. I left in 1996, kissing my junior high/high school sweetheart goodbye and never looking back. Already I'd seen what staying in a small town did to a girl: as the years went by, the staying silently, gradually, stole a life. Before the girl knew it, she was a grandmother who prattled on about all the places she'd never been and the things she'd never done. That wouldn't be me. No sir. No ma'am.

But here I am, thirteen years later, peering across the same street I marched down in the Christmas Parade when I was fifteen. I played Mary, since she always has brown hair, and tripped over that stupid pale blue robe a thousand times as my Keds stomped all over the hem. I remember how Baby Jesus had one of those blinky eyes that was stuck rolled back in his head. That really bothered me. If you're gonna make a doll be Baby Jesus, at least make sure it doesn't look like a girl and have freaky, broken eyes, I'd thought. How would you like to be God and have the "person" playing you in the Christmas parade be a retarted-looking plastic toy?

I think about these things now that I'm here again. Funny how the memories race across time and brick-paved streets to find me again... bring me things I haven't thought of for fifteen years. And now that I'm here, I wonder: am I meant to make grown memories here, or am I just stopping in long enough to remember and be on my way again?

Ah, downtown, hometown. We meet again.