I have now lived in 3 states and I have told many people that once you move away from your hometown you figure out that "home" is just geography and you tend to recreate your life where ever you are. Location becomes incidental to your life.
That's true to a point because no matter where we go we are always linked to the place where we were born and raised. There is some force that shackles us to its hallowed grounds forever. It's a combination for me of my family, who all still live in Iowa (I am the soul exception), and of the memories my hometown holds for me.
This trip was different for me to start because it was in the summer. A bit of a gamble with the weather (but when isn't the weather a gamble in the midwest I ask you) but it turned out to be very pleasant and a nice break from the Arizona heat and all in all couldn't complain. Seeing everything lush and green was a nice change from the bleak cold and gray I usually see at Christmastime when I have been home the past few years. Even when I was back in April it snowed (yeah, I am still bitter about that). A friend of mine is house hunting in Boone so we drove around and saw some houses and while he was shopping I was wandering memory lane. It's just so odd to be back in a place that for the most part only exists for me in my memories. You sometimes forget that it is a real place. I saw houses where friends used to live, the park I used to play at when I was a kid. My old grade school and the route I used to walk home. The tree I used to collect buckeyes from as a kid and put in a jelly jar that sat on my shelf. All these are precious memories to me and have made me who I am and I am so glad and grateful and for all that.....it's not my home anymore.
I have said a thousand times and I'll say it a thousand more how proud and grateful I am to be from Iowa but there is just nothing about it now that feels like I belong there. I am a guest and a tourist when I come back and that is bittersweet for me. It's a life I remember but can't really connect with now.
I took a few walks by myself to get some alone time (that's hard when I come back as well, being a person who lives alone its hard to adjust to being with someone 24/7 when I am back). And it struck me as so sad some of the neglect and disrepair that some buildings are falling into and yet there is a ton of road construction going on as well which makes for an odd juxtaposition as an observer. What was nice was the peace and calm Boone still has. It's just a quiet little lazy town and after the hustle of Phoenix it was a nice place to catch my breath for a bit.
And of course it was spectacular to see so many friends while I was back. The trip was always designed to be about spending time with friends first since most of my trips home are so packed with family time I never get to see any friends. Thanks again to everyone who could and did make it and no worries to the people who couldn't.....life happens and that is fine. You were there in spirit and I appreciate you all.
There were several highs while I was home and for the most part they were the nice mellow highs I wanted. Chilling at the park with my family and friends, having dinner with some of my bestest friends ever. Making a fool of myself with my family while out to lunch and hanging out with my family in general.
I also was able to spend part of his birthday with my brother. I still can't really tell you how it felt to see his grave- still processing those emotions. I hadn't seen it completed as I was home for the burial and then his headstone was set last year on his birthday. My sister and sister-in-law and nephew were with me and we all stood around and each had our own had a quiet moments while standing there. Then they let me have my own time alone with Troy. I talked to him in my head and if it had been a touch cooler (and less bugs) I would have sat down and had a much longer chat with him but twas not to be. Hot and bug bitten do not make for great and powerful moments. It was lovely there. He is buried in the original Madrid cemetery where the town founders are buried and there are woods all around it was quiet and serene and I am glad he is there and has found peace. If only he could pass that peace on to us.
Then we went to the cemetery in Boone and laid my Grandma to rest beside her beloved daughter (and my namesake) Sandy. The service was short and sweet and nice and was for sure the hardest part of the trip for a zillion reasons none of which I am even close to ready to process and share. I might never get there but I did have a chat with her and hopefully one issue in particular has been discussed and I can stop feeling the from beyond guilt trip I know she is laying! Yeah Grandma, I hear you.
So yeah.....my trip was a mixed bag as it always is going home. I am very glad I went and hope to come back soon (but not too soon) but my life is here and I am glad to be back in the world I have created and very glad to be back with the man who was waiting to sweep me off my feet as soon as I landed back in Phoenix. I confess here and now and officially that I am head over heels in love with him and feel so glad and lucky to have him in my life and together we are going to build a new home just for us.