Friday, February 24, 2012

You can't go home again

When DH and I got engaged, we were 23 years old and lived in different states. He was starting his master's degree and I was in my first year of teaching at a fantastic public high school. I put in my resignation, finished the year, cried like a baby at the end of year faculty party, and moved halfway across the country.

My whole life, I have always done everything right. It was the first right thing I had ever done.

We were broke, really broke. We lived in a tiny apartment. I subbed as much as I could, getting long term positions in and out, always getting enough work when I needed it. I went to the library. I read The Tightwad Gazette cover to cover. I baked our own bread, made our own ketchup. I planned my wedding there. Life was simple if not easy.

We were supposed to be there for 3 years, to have a life there, but it didn't happen that way. I cried when I heard we were moving, then I packed up and started again somewhere else.

This week, my husband had to go back to that college town for work, so BG and I went with him. I wanted to show my daughter where we'd lived, what we'd done, what our lives had been like back then.

But I didn't remember.

I mean, I recognized our old apartment building, but I didn't know which apartment had been ours. DH would point things out to me, "Oh, remember? That's the other Walmart. That's the Applebees where the Korean grad students used to drink all night." I nodded vaguely. I remembered the story, but not the restaurant.

While he was in meetings on Wednesday, I drove her out by the schools where I taught, not sure what I intended to do there, just hoping that when I saw them I would feel something.

But I didn't.

Nothing in the whole town had any meaning for me. The schools were just schools, the parks were just parks. There was no one there who would remember my name.

DH took us to dinner that night at the pizza place next to campus, where we'd only eaten once because we had gotten a giftcard for opening a bank account. The food was delicious, and it really wasn't that expensive. BG giggled all through dinner and ate half of my pasta. We bought her too many clothes at the campus book store, and we all went out for ice cream.

On the way out of town Thursday morning, our beautiful baby girl asleep in the back of our car, I lean my head on DH's shoulder. Without taking his eyes off the road, he puts a hand on my knee.

"When did we grow up?"

He raises his eyebrows. "A long time ago."

Somehow, I think, I'd been too busy to notice that until now.


  1. Ah, we grow up before we even appreciate the joy of youth, don't we?

    Since having a child, there are so many things I just can't remember anymore. The life before her seems so vague and so long ago. Maybe it's my mind's way of making room for all the things I need to remember now or all the baby memories it holds.

    1. Thanks, sweetie. I love your face. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels it getting vaguer.

  2. I think that when we grow a human we lose a part of our memory. But just think, the road ahead is only that much sweeter.

    1. Yes, she's eating my brain. And I know it is, thank you.

  3. It's funny how those things can seem like a lifetime ago. And they are, actually. BG's lifetime. Which is maybe why your brain has forgotten - because it's made room for things that matter now.

    1. It's funny, it wasn't until I read these comments that I heard myself say what I apparently always meant to say. I guess I knew I wasn't that girl anymore, but I wasn't ready to lose her. Like she'd still always be there later.

      What matters now matters. But it isn't all that matters.

  4. I can barely remember the time before I had the girls. My cousin said to me a few weeks "Your oldest is 4. When did that happen?" My response was "I don't know. It just kind of flew by."

  5. There is so much of my life that seemed so important that I hardly remember anymore. The place that I am in right now seems much more important.