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On Going Home

Did you move away from your hometown? For me, Springfield, Missouri, is a strange place to visit because it sparks so many memories of growing up. Two years ago, I moved to New York City. As I continue building my new life here, I’m often struck by what I miss — and don’t miss — from my hometown. Here’s my current list (what’s yours?)…

Things I Miss:
1. Porch swings.
2. The idea of Mrs. Brown living in a brown house with brown walls.
3. My brother, who teases, “Bet you don’t have [insert everyday object here] in New York.” (e.g., “Bet you don’t have socks in New York.”)
4. Street names like Cherry and Walnut.
5. Jugs of unsweetened iced tea.
6. My mom, who always asks me where she put her keys.
7. Cousin talent show drama.
8. Provel cheese.
9. My first grade teacher living next door to my parents. (The same teacher who watched me dance to “Like a Virgin” for show-and-tell.)
10. Downtime.
11. Driving to Target; a fully-stocked Target.
12. My aunt Millie’s potato casserole with corn flakes.
13. Attics.
14. Stock tanks used as swimming pools.
15. My dad, who uses an empty water bottle as his ping-pong paddle to make it a “fair game.”
16. Chatty neighbors.
17. Dusty sunsets.
18. Worn-out roller skates, and calling the sport “midwest skiing.”
19. Tap water that tastes slightly sweet.
20. All of the backyard locations I swore were Leprechaun doors.
21. Overheard piano lessons.
22. Bumpy sidewalks covered in chalk.
23. Teenagers riding in truck beds.
24. Andrew.
25. Knowing everyone’s name.

Things I Don’t Miss:
1. Brown recluse spiders.
2. The looming fear of an old porch swing collapsing.
3. The style of wearing sunglasses on top of baseball caps.
4. Long lines at the DMV.
5. Avoiding the neighbor that saw me sneak out of my parents’ house in high school.
6. Leeches.
7. Flooded basements.
8. Tornadoes.
9. Family forgetting to fill me in on gossip.
10. Life going on without me.

The longer I’ve lived away from Springfield, the more I know that I made the right decision to move. Sometimes I panic that the town will change and it will be no longer be the place I hold so dear. I remind myself, though, I’m changing too. After all, as Maya Angelou said, “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.”