Behind the Lens

A couple of years ago I was sitting in traffic when I noticed a sticker on the rear window of the car in front of me. It was an abstract sort of design and it wasn’t immediately clear what the sticker was supposed to represent. But owing to a particularly long traffic signal I was finally able to discern the image of a pregnant lady. She had a rounded belly with her hands on her aching back, her head was slightly downturned (looking at her belly, perhaps), and her hair was a bit wild. I’ve been pregnant before and I could totally remember that phase. Your back hurts and you’re tired, and if you have other kids the wild hair is a given. Even if it’s your first pregnancy sometimes the hormones can affect your hair, rendering it nearly unrecognizable. I almost wanted to roll down my window and shout something like, “Solidarity, Sister!” but I refrained. In fact, the more I looked at it the more I could see a crown on top of the head. Because of course it was a crown.

Over the next couple of months I noticed more and more of those stickers in different colors and patterns. I wasn’t sure why the sudden show of support for pregnant mothers – after all, women have been carrying babies in their bellies for thousands of years – but it was kind of cool. Yeah! It’s about time mothers got the attention they deserve!

Then came the day I was driving my oldest daughter somewhere and we found ourselves behind a car with one of those stickers. I pointed it out to her and commented that I might want to get one myself. You know, to celebrate motherhood. She gave me the side eye, trying to decide if I was serious or not, and then she laughed. And laughed, and laughed, until she was tearing up and gasping for breath. In fact, guffawed is probably a more accurate word than laughed.

“Mom. That’s not a pregnant woman.”

This is the sticker to which I am referring:

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Now admit it: you can see why I thought it was a pregnant lady.

Of course now I know it’s the Browning logo, which is in the shape of a deer’s head looking backward. What I thought was hair (or a crown) is actually antlers, head=ear, belly=neck, and those hands pressed into an aching back are actually the deer’s nose.

Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait right here.

Are you finished? Let’s move on.

(But it could totally be a pregnant woman. I’m just saying.)

Let’s just talk for a minute about WHY I saw one thing and not what was intended.

:I was viewing that sticker through the lens of my unique life experience. I am a mother of three and it is a huge part of how I see myself. I have never been a hunter (huntress?), or an outdoorsman (outdoorsperson?). Much like the ink blots in the test conducted by psychiatrists, I related what I saw to my own personal experience. When I see a round belly, or what looks like one, it reminds me of my pregnancies. In a similar vein, I have a habit of matching new friends up to old ones. Or shall I say “friends I have known longer”? And if a new person reminds me of someone I know and like, somehow it rubs off. I tend to like you already!

Because each person is a one of a kind creation of God’s, each of us views life through the lens of our own life experiences. And unless you are a middle aged mother of three girls who was born in the South, married young and divorced, then married again to a Yankee, reads like it’s my job, and cannot stand seafood, you probably won’t see things the way I do. Even if you do meet all those criteria, there are thousands more things that we don’t have in common that may mean we see life differently.

Nowhere is this more evident than on social media right now. State an opinion and among the 253 responses you will find 253 opinions of your opinion. And far too often each person is convinced that their opinion is the only right one, never considering that someone else might see a pregnant woman instead of the deer that’s intended.

It’s true in parenting, marriage, work, ministry – anywhere you gather two or more people together, you get two or more sets of life experiences and therefore, opinions. And it’s very hard to step out from behind my own lens to see things from where you might be standing behind your lens, but it is so very necessary.

Because while God created us all to be unique, He also told us to love one another and I believe that love walks hand in hand with acceptance. Not just tolerance, but acceptance. Accepting that my view is not the only one, and actively seeking to see things from another point of view, for instance. Accepting that I might just be wrong about what I think I’m seeing. Keeping an open mind and heart for what God might want to say to me through another of His creations. Recognizing that there might be more than one way to see it, or that I may not see the whole picture.

Now every time you see one of the Browning stickers on the back of a car, maybe you’ll  find yourself thinking, “pregnant woman with back pain and hair issues”. You’re welcome for that. May it remind you that oftentimes there is more to a thing than we see at first.

And if you smile at my silliness, that’s okay too.

 

 

 

Hair Experiments

I have this daughter. Well, I actually have three of them, but only one of them is the focus of this post. She’s a young teenager and I let her experiment on her hair.

I don’t just mean I let her cut it or get highlights or even put a bottle of Miss Clairol on it once in a while. I mean I let her get color in her hair. In fact, I usually do the honors myself, beauty school wannabe that I am. And just yesterday I let her get a daring (and darling) haircut, although we visited a professional for that one.

Sometimes people don’t understand why a girl her age would want, say, a large green streak in the front of her hair. I don’t pretend to fully understand it myself, although I have been known to sport the occasional purple highlight, or pink for breast cancer awareness. My husband, who is a fairly conservative guy (okay, he’s a REALLY conservative guy, and he’s mine and I love him), especially struggles with understanding this desire to decorate our heads and change hairstyles as often as we change socks.

But we want to be understanding to our girl, and that’s why we let her express her personality through her hair. We want her to walk around with the assurance that Mom and Dad love her no matter what style she is sporting on her head. That she is beautiful in her Father’s eyes and ours, always.

We’ve all seen those young ones in the mall or somewhere else, and their hair color is something more at home in a box of crayons than on a human head. I see them when I go through the pick up line at the high school, and even at the middle school. I will confess to some silent judging in the past, thinking that there were parents out there who were slacking by letting their kids play Paint By Numbers on their heads. I lumped Startling Hair Color into the same category as Ear Gauges and Excessive Facial Piercings and considered each one a sign of trouble. And if they had more than one? Yikes! Kids like that were the ones who had behavior problems, right? I mean, they can’t even commit to a conventional personal appearance. How could we expect them to follow the rules of polite society?

I am so wrong for doing that – judging someone on the basis of appearance. I should know better.

Because then my own kid asked if she could color her hair.

My knee jerk reaction was exactly the one you might expect: No! But when her face, which had been cautiously hopeful when she asked, suddenly closed up as she turned to walk away, I had to ask myself Why Not? Why not, indeed?

I asked her why she wanted to color it, and she said she just wanted to try it and see what it was like, and she thought it would look cute. The teen years are all about discovering who you are and what you want to be as a person. Why NOT experiment on your hair? (And why limit self-expression and self-discovery to teens? But let’s save that for another blog post.)

We’ve tried to teach our children that it is not necessary, or even desirable, to follow the crowd. You don’t have to wear the same brands or styles as everyone else or feel like you need to blend in. Wear what is comfortable and what you like to wear, as long as it’s modest and appropriate for the occasion. (This is why I have one child who almost exclusively wears oversized hoodies, but that’s her choice) I don’t want my children to bow to peer pressure when it comes to clothing or hair style. I have tried to teach my kids that they do not need to live their lives based on someone else’s opinion of them.

In addition, this child is extremely creative. Music, writing, drawing, painting – it never ends. To her, hair is just another canvas on which to express her personality. And so we put a big ol’ green streak right in the front of her hair. She loved it!

Is hair style an accurate representation of a person’s spiritual state? Of course not! At least I would hope not, because more and more supposed “grown-ups” are taking on Skittles-like hues these days. It appears to be a “thing”, so maybe my daughter is being a trendsetter. I’d much rather see her blaze a trail than blindly follow her peers. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I worry just a little bit about how her style choices might affect the perception of someone who doesn’t know her. And then I remind myself that this is precisely the thing I tell my daughters NOT to worry about. As long is it’s not immodest, immoral, or illegal, what’s the big deal?

After all, it’s just hair. If she doesn’t like the color, she can change it to something else. And if she really doesn’t like it, she can always cut her hair short and start over.

Yesterday she did just that. After several days’ parents/daughter negotiation, I took her to a hairstylist who spent a solid 15 minutes discussing with my daughter what style she wanted and what would look best on her. In the end, the stylist lopped off several inches of my daughter’s dark blond bob. In the back and on the sides it is very, very short. In fact I stopped myself from typing “as short as a boy’s haircut” just now, because who says that only boys have very short hair? In the front she has a long sideswept bang that can go to either side. And the piece de resistance for her? A portion over her left ear was shaved to the skin. The mile-wide grin on her face when she saw her reflection in the mirror, well, it was worth every penny I paid for that appointment. You can’t put a price on that kind of confidence boost.

She walked out of that salon like she was walking on air. There’s just something about having a vision for your hair (or your clothing, or your life) that brings such joy when it’s fulfilled.

I think we won Parenting yesterday. At least until the next time we cross swords over screen time or homework.

Here’s my beautiful baby from the outside in:

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I Thought I Had More Time

I thought I had more time.

When you were a baby the years stretched out on a seemingly endless horizon. The notion that you would one day turn 18 and leave home for college seemed a lifetime away. All I could see right then was the precious baby with her big blue eyes and that adorable smile lighting up her face.

I figured I had years and years. I should have known better.

And then you became a toddler, and later a preschooler, and you wanted to do things for yourself that I had always done for you. I was proud of your independence but I started to think about the time coming all too soon when you would begin elementary school.

I thought I still had lots of time left with you.

You were only 5 and in kindergarten. You had trouble getting used to the idea of being at school all day, and I had trouble getting used to you being away from me. But I had your baby sister at home and she was a real handful, keeping me busy most of the time, so I didn’t really notice how fast the time was passing. I volunteered at the school so I could still see you during the day sometimes. Besides, we still had years and years together.

I really thought we’d have more time.

And then you got further on in elementary school and you started wanting to spend time with your friends, so we set up playdates and hosted sleepovers and watched you blossom. Your personality emerged more and more, and it was a delight to note all the ways we were alike and different. You definitely got your singing voice from me, but your eyes from your Dad. You loved it when I came to eat lunch with you at school.

Time flew on but I knew we still had almost a decade before you graduated high school. Lots of time left.

Intermediate school came and you surprised yourself by winning the school spelling bee. After a while you found your way socially and expanded your group of friends. More playdates (except they were called “hanging out” now) and sleepovers went on, and sometimes we even took friends with us on summer vacations. I loved watching you with your friends and seeing you interact. I started missing you a little, and the way I used to have you all to myself.

There was still more than five years until graduation but I could feel the loss of you already beginning.

Then came middle school, and a big move to another state. Lots of adjustments were happening and some came easily while others came at a cost. Too often it was you who suffered the most. Throughout it all you were doing your best to be a good sport and live up to our expectations. It was painful to watch you struggle to find friends in our new home, but your father and I cheered you on as you reached out and made connections, even though we knew sometimes you would rather curl up in your room with anime videos than risk rejection.

I realized that the thought of you packing your things in a few short years to move into a dorm room was enough to take my breath away. Where did the time go?

Then over the summer there was a boy who wanted to be more than a friend to you. He hung out at our house a few times and it dawned on me that one day you would meet a young man who would deserve your love (he will have to be a rare specimen indeed) and you would link arms with him and make a home of your own. I wondered how well we as parents had prepared you for such a thing.

I think my Mama heart stopped for a few seconds when I thought about you getting married one day.

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This year you started high school and it was tough. Good grades require more and more of your time and effort. You have more friends and you’ve developed new interests and ways of thinking that both surprise and delight me. What a marvelous person you’re turning out to be! You are caring, thoughtful, and incredibly creative, not to mention talented and beautiful. You don’t waste time worrying about others’ opinions of you – you follow your own path. Your father and I are so incredibly proud of you!

But along with the maturity comes the natural desire to forge your own identity and this sometimes causes you to want to spend time alone, and that’s okay. Because sometimes when you emerge from your cocoon you want hugs and back rubs and to sit close to us on the couch. In those times I see glimpses of that baby girl you used to be, and she doesn’t seem so far off.

I truly thought I would have more time. And I wonder: did I savor your childhood, or did I rush through it while anticipating the next stage? Did I overlook the joy of the day in my curiosity about what tomorrow might bring?

Did I wish your younger years away in my eagerness to see you grow up? And furthermore, have your Dad and I done a good job of preparing you to grow up? We thought we’d have so much more time for that.

It is so ironic that when children are younger they are desperate for their parents’ attention and the parents aren’t always willing to give it. And yet when they get older and they no longer seem to need that constant attention, the parents miss giving it.

We will follow your lead and let you grow up at your own pace, even though there are days when we wish we could slow down the passage of time, because every day brings us closer to the day that you will one day leave home to make a life of your own. Which is as it should be.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to take. Meanwhile maybe you can be patient with your parents for wanting to be around you so much. We’re just trying to prepare ourselves for the day when you’re not here all the time.

I Miss My Best Friend

Friendship is tricky. I’m sure I’ve written about that before, how making friends is like dating without the romantic part. You meet, you decide if you have chemistry, you go on some “dates” to test things out. It’s hard, and unlike the romantic kind of dating, people don’t always make time in their lives for new friendships.

Life is busy and hectic, the kids have their own schedules, and sometimes you just cannot make space for one. more. thing. I get it. Once upon a time, that was me. My life was full and if I met someone new I had to evaluate whether or not I could (or wanted to) fit that person into my circle of friends. I’m sure I missed out on some beautiful friendships because I couldn’t or wouldn’t make time for them.

But I’d like to whine for just a few minutes here, if you don’t mind.

I miss having a best friend.

I’ve only been in this state for 18 months, and in this particular neighborhood for six months, so I realize that I’m still quite new.  And I have made some friends, so I’m not totally lonely and friendless, and some of those friends are very dear to me. Today I’m just missing a particular deep kind of woman-friendship.

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I miss the kind of friend who is (nearly) always willing to meet up for coffee or aimless window shopping.

I miss the friend who will sit at my kitchen table and chat with me while I run around the room in my pajamas trying to set it to rights.

I miss shopping with a friend who was brave and honest enough to tell you if those pants made my butt look wide or that top looked like something my Grandma would wear. And I knew she loved me so I trusted her to tell me the truth.

I miss the friend who came and comforted me while I was having a medical problem, and then stayed with my children until after midnight while I was at the hospital getting treatment.

I miss the one who sang beside me on the stage and in the car, and anywhere else we were together.

I miss the friend who was my pregnancy buddy, who had her first baby just before I had mine so we could raise them together as we stumbled our way through motherhood, reassuring each other that we were doing a great job.

I miss the inside jokes that made me feel like I belonged.

I miss the friend who took me to yard sales as we hunted for hidden treasures in other people’s junk.

I miss the one who didn’t care that I wasn’t a “hugger” and hugged me anyway, showing me that it’s nothing to be afraid of and is actually quite nice once you get used to it.

I miss the friend who walked with me through the horrors of infertility and loss and didn’t shy away from the pain but held my hand and prayed with me.

I miss the one who would bring her family with ours on vacation.

I miss the friend who was there when neither of us had husbands any more, who reminded me that although we felt broken it wouldn’t always be that way. (And she was right)

I miss the one who came to sit with me in the wee hours of the morning at the hospital when my daughter had to be rushed into emergency surgery late at night.

I miss the friend who always had my back, who took my side when I needed her to, who was brave enough to tell me when I was wrong, who was for me and wanted the best for me.

I’ve had the joy of loving many best friends over my life, and all of them had a hand in shaping me into the person I am today. I still enjoy many of those friendships even though we are now separated by distance. Social media and the telephone help a lot, but seeing each other once or twice a year just isn’t enough for me. I’d like to find some sister-friends in my zip code too.

And maybe I’m being unrealistic in this day and age. Once upon a time, before cell phones and perpetual internet connectedness, people had to connect in other ways, like knocking on a friend’s door and sharing a cup of tea.

I have lots of Facebook contacts. Some date all the way back to my childhood, and I love being able to keep up with people who knew me before I had all my adult teeth. But I fear that the casual nature of online friendships doesn’t always translate well into face-to-face relationships. It’s easy to make a comment or post whenever you have a minute, and that keeps the conversation flowing, sort of. That’s not the same as looking into someone’s eyes, hearing the tone of their voice, and observing body language. I want more of that. I crave the kind of intimacy I’ve had with friends who know my faults and accept me anyway. Maybe that makes me old-fashioned.

Friendship, like love, is nurtured by shared experiences. And it takes time. It also takes intention. You can’t sit around and just wait for it to happen. You have to find someone else who is interested in developing the relationship and both of you have to make room for it in your lives. It’s hard. There’s no blinking red light or gauge on people’s foreheads to tell you who is going to eventually make a good friend so there are going to be some false starts. And let me tell you, it takes a mighty big dose of courage to make the first move because rejection stings.

To paraphrase the great philosopher Phil Collins, “You can’t hurry friendship; oh, you’ll just have to wait. They say friends don’t come easy – it’s a game of give and take.” You’ve got to trust and give it time, no matter how long it takes.

I know my next bestie is out there and I’m not giving up. Relationships are too important, and I’m convinced God created us for relationship – first with Him, and then with each other. And I’m also convinced that He didn’t intend for us to settle for surface-y, Facebook post-y relationships to fulfill our desire to connect, so I’m not settling either. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way. Maybe, just maybe, there’s another woman out there who is in need of someone to come alongside her and share the journey, face to face and heart to heart.

Hang on, BFF. I’m coming for you.

…In With the New (a OneWord post)

Last year I focused on…well…Focus. I was hoping for a more fun word this year. Adventure, Praise, Joy – those all sounded pretty good. But then I started thinking about what I wish was different in my life and where I’d like to improve personally. When December 31, 2016, rolls around what would I like to see changed?

I wanted a word that meant I would think carefully about what I was doing and also indicated that my life would become simpler and easier to manage in some ways. I felt like I needed to pay attention to what I do, think, and feel. I wanted to reevaluate the state of my life, all the way down to the arrangement of the furniture in my bedroom. I considered Weigh but the other implications of THAT word reminded me of New Year’s resolutions, so no. Intentional crossed my mind, as did Consider and Deliberate. But I finally settled on Mindful. Not Mindfulness, which is a noun, but the adjective form, because I want the word to describe me.

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Mindful means that I won’t allow my time to be sucked away by the black hole of the internet because I’m more conscious of what I’m doing.

Mindful means that when I’m asked to do a job or volunteer, I will carefully consider the cost and will pray about it instead of just blindly jumping in. Sometimes saying “yes” gets me into trouble because I commit to things in order to please others at the expense of my family.

Mindful means that when my children or husband need me or want to talk to me, I will be fully present and not compiling a to-do list or planning dinner (or a blog post) in my mind.

Mindful reminds me to pay attention to my surroundings and my own health so that I can be the best possible version of me.

Mindful says that I will concentrate on what I’m doing at the time and give it my full attention and effort. (This is why I say it’s the cousin of Focus)

And especially this: Mindful indicates that I will be more aware of God’s presence in my life and the world around me. I will learn to look and listen for Him and His voice.

I have spent so much of life just flitting from one thing to the next without paying much attention that it’s time for me to slow down and really SEE. It’s a great quality to be able to look past distraction into the truth of a thing, but I have reached a point where the distractions are mounting up and blocking my view. Mindful says that I will be thoughtful and deliberate in removing the distractions from my life so that I can focus on living for Him.

I’ve even chosen a verse: 2 Timothy 1:7 says this, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. The verse right before is this: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” which is a reminder to me to use the talents God has given me without fear. My verse tells me that a sound mind is a gift of God, just like His power and love that He imparts to us. And if He’s given me a sound mind I ought to use it to His glory.

This should be interesting. Let’s get started.

If you have a word for 2016, what is it? How did you choose that word?

Out With the Old… (A OneWord post)

I’ve been doing this One Word thing for the past few years, in which you choose a word (or God chooses one for you) that becomes your focus in the coming year. It’s like New Year’s resolutions but not. In the past I’ve had words like Less (the year I purged a bunch of stuff from my house), Move (the year we moved to Virginia), and last year’s word was Focus.

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I try not to compare but I felt a little bad about Focus, when all around me people were choosing words like Thrive, Rejoice, Wonder, Worship, etc. Those words are so happy and fun and promising! Focus sounded so serious and pointed and kind of like hard work, especially to someone whose entire life seems to be be one giant tornado of chaos. But I knew I could use some improvement in that area and it felt right so I went with it.

Well.

I won’t lie to you and say that I made some huge changes in my life and now I have laser focus and will forevermore be able to keep my eyes on the prize at all times. Not so much. But I can say that I saw some improvement in my ability to focus. I learned to turn off the TV and get into a quiet place when I read my Bible and devotionals instead of trying to absorb God’s word through the noise. I found that I could read scripture two or three times, truly focusing on it, and commit it to memory, whereas my slapdash approach in the past had me reading and re-reading the same verses with little to no comprehension.

I tried to put Focus into practice in my relationships too. I made an effort to pay attention when my kids or my husband were talking to me, and I gave up trying to multitask. I attempted to look people in the eye when we were having a conversation and that’s not easy for an introvert. I try to put my phone at least face down when I’m at lunch with a friend or at the table with my family. Yes, it’s hard. The world tells me that I should have the phone surgically attached to my hand so that I’m never out of touch with the online world, but as a Believer I’m called to be different than the world anyway. This is just one more way to show love to others and be a nonconformist, right?

I also found tasks get done much more efficiently because I only have to do them ONCE if I focus and pay attention to what I’m doing. When I multitask, sometimes I make mistakes that cost me time in redoing things.

So Focus, I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better this year. I’d like to say I will miss you but I see that you’ve sent your cousin to hang out with me for the next year. Apparently I still need some work in this area. I’ll post an introduction of my new word in a couple of days.

What about you? Do you choose a word? What was your word last year and how did it work out for you?

You Can’t Go Home Again (or can you?)

Home. For some people it conjures up comfort and coziness. For others it may bring back memories of neglect or indifference, or even abuse. For most of us the idea of “home” falls somewhere in the middle.

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I went home for Thanksgiving this year, and yet I didn’t. The home I remember from my growing up years is not the home my mother lives in today, so going home for me does not mean things like sleeping in my childhood bedroom. In fact, my mother’s house is not suitable for all of my family to stay there so we stay in a nearby hotel.

The hotel thing isn’t bad, really. My kids enjoy the indoor pool and hot tub, and the whole “holiday family time” thing doesn’t lead to overkill and resentment.

I observed a few things during my trip home this year that I’d like to share with anyone interested in reading about them.

    1. Life Goes On. I moved away from my hometown back in 2006. A lot changes in nine years, and the changes in my town made me want to stop someone and inquire as to who gave permission to close that restaurant I always loved or reroute the street I used as a shortcut. It’s very hard to remember that life goes on when you leave a place. The entire population doesn’t all sit around in limbo until you come back again. Maybe it’s my selfish nature that causes me to imagine otherwise. For me personally, the town I grew up in just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I go back there looking for the scruffy little suburb I remember as a kid and I find something much more polished and, well, huge. There’s a Target store when my house used to stand. There’s a whole shopping/restaurant complex where there used to be a Kawasaki dealership. Housing developments dot the landscape where there used to be only farms. I follow the news outlets (thank you, Facebook!) to keep up with what’s going on in the town I left nearly a decade ago, but I never fail to be both astonished and dismayed at the changes I see when I go back. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong to feel that way, just that I do.
    2. People Move On. There’s a part of me that thinks I should be able to walk into the local WalMart in my hometown and see the cashier that used to ring up my purchases back in 2005. And while that might actually happen, I doubt it, and expecting such a thing is a little nuts. (For one thing, the WalMart is in a different location. See #1 above) Social media is a great tool for keeping up with people you knew in years past. Sometimes you can make plans with those you used to know and meet up face to face, and it’s fabulous. But keeping up on social media can be done on the go, so don’t get your feelings hurt if you try to set something up and it doesn’t work out. You may be on vacation but these people are living their day-to-day get-things-done lives.I’ve been able to meet up with high school classmates a few times, and I catch myself wondering if they can read all over my face the years since graduation. I also still find myself walking into a store or the mall in my hometown (there’s a mall!) wondering if I will see anyone I know. I probably will but I might not recognize them now, just as they may not recognize me. It’s kind of sad to walk around feeling like a stranger or a visitor in a town that used to be called “home” but that’s pretty much what I am when I’m there. What’s worse is when someone DOES recognize me and I don’t know who they are, so I have to play along while frantically searching my memory banks for clues. I ran into my high school French teacher in the grocery store a couple of years ago and she hadn’t changed a bit in 30 years. Apparently I must have held onto some semblance of my high school appearance that she knew who I was right away. Maybe it was the awkwardness that I seem to carry around like a shield.
    3. Memories Live On. There is a lot of satisfaction in driving my children around to the places I used to go. I have become one of those people who randomly burst out, “there’s where I used to catch the school bus!” on trips to my hometown. Maybe the satisfaction is just for me because my husband and kids don’t seem to get the same charge out of seeing the convenience store where I used to get lunch with my friends once we were finally allowed to leave school grounds, much less hearing what I always bought (a Pepsi and nacho cheese Combos). I must admit that I am less than riveted when my husband points out all his old haunts when we visit Wisconsin, so I guess fair is fair. Even more fun for them is when I point out where something

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      to be. For some reason they just can’t imagine it like I can. But the public pools where I used to spend hours and hours (too many of them, according to the spots on my skin) in the summers, the skating rink where I hung out (not skating much because it seems I was/am bad at it), the drive-in movie theater where I watched movies and later, well, “parked” (and that’s enough about

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    ) – those things are all still there and driving past them is enough to stir up sweet memories of my younger days. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t matter that my childhood home is no longer standing because in truth I’d love to be able to walk through it again. But the memories remain, as do the photographs, and that will have to be enough.

I hear people say that they go back to their hometowns and it seems like time has stood still. The same people are still there, doing the same things over and over like no time has passed. I’m not sure if they see this as a good thing: stability and consistency – or a bad thing: old-fashioned and stuck in a rut.

As for me, I know that sometimes I feel sad that I left my hometown. There is something to be said for remaining in the familiar environment you’ve always known and staying where your story began. My family is still there, which I guess makes me the black sheep who moved away, or the rebel, whichever way you want to look at it. But if I’d stayed in the same town, how much would I have missed? All the years, experiences, and friends we’ve had since then, first in South Carolina, and now in Virginia, for starters. My life would be so much less rich without the joys and sorrows I’ve seen in the years after we left Tennessee.

And in the end, home is where you make it, and we have chosen to make our home, the home for our little family, in Virginia.

kennadoor2

There is no rule that says you can’t go back home again. You can go. You should go. But you should be aware that you may find that it doesn’t feel like the home you remember. It’s different. You’re different. And that’s as it should be.