October 3, 2012

Question 6: On going home

As much as you seem to prefer Boston over New Jersey, is it hard living in a place where you grew up?
And, do you miss having a relationship with your sister?

By the time stood outside Sxxx Jr. High School clutching my all-wrong purple purse and wearing my even-more-wrong glasses and dressed in my hopelessly-wrong clothes with my never-going-to-be-right hair, I had lived in five different places with three different homes. I was twelve-going-on-lost.

So, while I lived in Sxxx for six years and graduated that high school, I wouldn’t call it the place where I grew up. I did mostly grow up in various towns in Massachusetts, but there were other states thrown in, as well, and my elementary years were spent in Amherst, MA, which is a couple hours west. Even though the town where we live now is a Boston suburb, it’s almost an hour from Sxxx.

Massachusetts feels like a homecoming in all the good ways. I like Boston and I appreciate the attitude here toward many things, although my years away have made me intolerant of Boston drivers. I like the architecture and the trees, the weather and the accents. I like the way people just say what they’re thinking, although perhaps not as much as I do. Because no one says what she’s thinking quite as much as I do.

It feels right to be here.

That said, when I have been in Sxxx to visit friends or to go to the beach, it has been strange and familiar, which makes it stranger. I remember where things are, and most things haven’t changed. I’ve bulleted forward in time, leaving my Sxxx far behind, but there it is, same as it ever was.

You can’t go home again because there is no home, just your memory of it. OK, maybe there is a home for you, but I move on from places, having taken from them whatever I’m going to get and maybe touched a couple of lives on the way.

It’s also strange because my sister lives there and I look just like her. I’ve made a commitment not to speak in Sxxx about my childhood in order to give her that space. Is there a chance I’ll run into her? Sure. We had lunch at a place half a mile from her house. But, for the most part, I’ve left her that corner of space. The rest of the world is plenty big for me.

As to whether I miss her – of course I do. Every day. I miss the sister I could have had, the sister I had, and knowing who she has become. I miss knowing if she’s OK, but I guess we never really know that anyway. I miss our kids having one another. I miss feeling connected to another person in that deep, blood-tied way that so many other people have.

That said, I don’t miss our relationship, which was so fraught and torn that it caused us both more stress than it gave us joy. I will never stop loving her, but I have accepted that we’re both probably better off apart.

If she reads this – and she may – if she’s the same person she was, she’ll misinterpret it as some sort of hostile attack. That’s how it was with us. But she’s probably not the same person she was. We never are.

And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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