I am now a Texan living in New York. There are times in your life where you worry that you’re moving backward. You’re not going forward, but you’re moving back. It’s how I’ve felt about moving back to Long Island, where I was raised, where I haven’t lived since I was seventeen. I was moving back, literally and figuratively.
I moved back to a place where I remember pacing in the kitchen of my parents’ home in the dark, bound to one room by a curly phone cord, speaking on a “party line” for $0.50 a minute to boys I’d never meet. I remember lying in the sun room, staring out at a tree, wondering if there was anyone else, in that same moment, staring out at tree–that the mere act and timing of it connected us in some way, like lovers apart who’ve promised to stare at the same star, at the same time each night, to feel together. It’s the first time I remember feeling connected to the universe, that there was a destined route and rhyme for my life.
Going back to this place as an adult, I feared it meant I’d failed at something–that it would be a regression, back to the streets I’d outgrown. But, I’ve totally been surprised.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said aloud, “This is amazing!” I’ll drive down streets and break into song. With each new turn onto old streets I’m energized. Little me once sat at that table, just where Abigail sits now. I went shopping here with my Grandmother. I learned to swim right there, dove for the first time off that edge, and now, my children will walk in my footsteps and wander off to create their own prints. And it doesn’t cost a dime.
No matter where you end up living in life, many of us have the choice to go back, to create an alternate universe with different limits and new freedoms. It’s just a great, great feeling, and I’ve been so surprised by it.
I’m fortunate enough to have had a childhood free of abuse, untainted by dark memories I’d sooner forget. I had a childhood on a carrousel at Nunley’s, strapped in but standing, reaching for the brass ring. This is the place where I was first loved, the place where I learned who I wanted to be. Now, I’m at the “BE” part, grownup, and I have the opportunity to face that, to meet with my childhood self, sit under a tree, splitting poly-noses (a maple seed that splits and can be stuck to your nose), and asking the questions. I have a feeling she’d climb in my lap, both hands on my face, and tell me, “You’re doing OK, kid.” I don’t think she’d be disappointed, I really don’t. Which makes me feel proud.
I’m filled with so much excitement here, loving it. I can’t get enough. If you asked me to leave, I wouldn’t. I got in the car and was looking for a HomeGoods, which of course was around the corner, but the GPS couldn’t find one, so I ended up just driving around, waiting for the GPS to find one on its signal. I love exploring. Phil gets impatient, “Where we going? What’s going on?” So, I just drop him off at home to watch TV, while I go out and roam. So, yeah, I was in “Roam” today, and it might as well have been Rome, Italy. My roam consisted of the Old Town of Roslyn, home to Diane’s Bakery and the duck pond, where I’d gone after Prom, where we explored and roamed in a very different way.
I LOVE being back, not just in New York, but on Long Island, specifically. Going back sometimes enables you to go forward. It can be the best thing for you. It revives you and gives you that safety–yes, from a town! You feel like people are pulling for you; they believe in you. It’s home. Except this home needs some Austin.
This weekend, we’re off to the Hamptons, staying at Alexandra’s summer home, seeing Smelly and the gang, where there will be girl love, as we watch our children play together as we drink wine.
This post was more or less a transcription of the audio I unsuccessfully uploaded the other day. Ups and downs, figured I’d share the ups, too.