As a person living continually in transition, going back to my childhood neighborhood holds a unique position in my heart. As we return older and less frequently, the changes become more noticeable. We’re no longer the group that holds that spot, the people who run that place, the kids who have annoying yet cute tag alongs. There’re strangers in our booth, and our tag alongs somehow became the people we used to be. There’s a special grief that accompanies every trip home, every change noted. It’s not the sweet sorrow of losing a loved one after a full life. It’s not the sharp, lost grief we experience upon a sudden and tragic loss of a friend. But for some reason, our mellow, nostalgic feelings have a keen sense of loss lurking just behind them.
Perhaps it’s because we really aren’t that far removed. It’s only been a handful of years since we were right there. But it could also be that even when we’re right back there, we can’t find the us that ruled that spot with such confidence. Every time we return we look anxiously for ourselves and our totally awesome group of friends. For our slice of heaven that was consumed so willingly with angst and drama and a ridiculous sense of hard won freedom. And in our place we find new kids, with new traditions and a new outlook on trouble and angst.
They don’t fit quite right into the us shaped hole, and even though we laugh about it, we know we’ve lost that unique hold on home. A sure sign it’s time to move on and become a new us. Whether it’s just down the street or states away, it’s time to search for someone else’s nostalgic hole to fill.