Today was a nice day! I hope it was the same for you, too.
The other day, I decided to go for a walk. Nothing huge, no real purpose in mind – I just felt like I’d had one too many days of just lounging around on the couch. Plus, it’d be nice to reacquaint myself with the area!
(For those that don’t know – I’ve recently moved back to the city I was born in, somewhere I haven’t been for roughly ten years now?)
I decided I would just start down this main road, and if I saw something that piqued my interest, I’d head that way. Try and get myself lost, just a little bit. What actually ended up happening is that I realised – hey, wait a minute, my childhood library is actually pretty close to where I live! And once I realised that, I realised that means my childhood primary school must be pretty close too. And once I realised THAT – I realised my childhood HOME, a place I’ve only seen in the occasional Google Streetview over the past ~15 years, was also pretty close by.
So that’s what I did today! Went on a bit of a nostalgia tour.
I started by heading down the same main street – straight away it’s a really weird feeling. I never spent a tonne of time in the city centre when we lived here, so these are mostly just things I recognise from out the car window – but the fact that I still recognise things is… yeah, weird. Some things have changed superficially, of course – a restaurant which was once familiar is now new, but the weird statue / art installation outside is still exactly the same.
I walk past a pharmacy I remember seeing all the time, across the street from a little group of shops that have all sprung up since I left. I stop by the address where my grandmother used to live, and laugh at the memory of her letting me eat peanut butter by the spoonful, to my mum’s dismay. And I keep walking.
Up to the library, where I spent hours upon hours as a kid. Picking up huge orders of books on reserve and just devouring them, or sitting on a beanbag looking through these weird, backwards Japanese comic books. I don’t stop off there today, though – I don’t have a library card (yet!), and besides. This isn’t today’s destination. So I walk out the back entrance, along the river, up to the track which runs behind the school. I look over the fence – where I distinctly recall a couple of kids saying I was handicapped due to my “weird accent” – and I stop in my tracks.
Everything’s getting renovated. Big excavators and fencing, men in hi-vis as far as the eye can see. Between that and some new buildings, it’s almost… unrecognisable. And then, just over the fence – I see a playground. One of two, this one was for the bigger kids – I’m pretty sure I fell off it and broke an arm at one point.
(Although there’s actually a decently sized list of things that can apply to. I was… not a coordinated child. Or a coordinated adult, for that matter.)
I don’t head into the grounds – even if school’s out, that feels weird, plus there’s kids playing basketball there – and instead keep following the river, eventually leading me back to a main road, and a pedestrian crossing. Instantly I’m struck with nostalgia – I recognise that avenue across the road!
I head under the shade of the trees, a welcome relief, and make for the end of the avenue. I’m almost nervous, which feels weird, but it passes quickly. It’s not like I’m making a pilgrimage to some sacred site, or heading out to defeat my past demons or some such. Sometimes the truth is as simple as “I’m going for a walk to my old house”!
I pass a park where my sisters and I used to hang out all the time, and am hit by yet more memories. A wooden fort in the middle, which used to tower over me – now I can see over every wall. The fence where I would talk to a would-be, could-be, might-have-been crush as she, baby Goth that she was, rebelled against the tyranny of her after-school program. I do a loop around the pond and keep going, uphill now. No need to check my map or anything – I know exactly where I am.
I crest the hill and turn into the crescent,the same way I must have done hundreds – thousands? – if times coming back from school. Instantly, I’m home. It truly is SUCH a strange feeling, to come back after so long and have nearly everything be the same. Some houses look identical – others are brand new. Ours is almost completely different – but, if you know what to look for, the clues are still there. The white birch out the front is gone now, and what was once my mum’s studio is now seemingly just a garage – but it’s still the same. The spirit is still there, somehow.
And that’s the important thing, I think. At the end of the day, almost nothing that I’ve seen is *actually* the same. Even the things that look identical – shops will have new management or staff, homes will have new residents – and of course let’s not forget that everything has been moderately earthquaked, too. But the silhouette of a building, the shade of a tree, even just walking the same path back home from school – they all still live in my mind, somewhere.
Sometimes you really can go home again, at least for a little bit. Thanks for reading.