I pass through her shadow much like passing through a lake spring. I catch a glimpse of her in baggy shirt and jeans by the State theater, but it’s only a ghost that passes into the shade of an elm. I felt her pulling my steps into the same sixteen year old’s rhythm on Washington Blvd and I forced myself to pick up the pace. She haunted me at the corner of Summer and Broad where the old Caldor’s Department store used to be. Just thinking about that old five and dime throws my thinking back forty years. I shiver as the closed in feeling of a girl’s bathroom swims into view. Children laughing and pulling at my clothes as they shove me into the stall door. I dressed in hand-me downs and cheap clothing that all the kids knew where it had been bought. I stop walking and let her ghost drift past as I turn my face into the sun on Atlantic.
I look in boutique windows that I would have never looked in as a child and her ten year old shadow hovers at my hip. We were too poor to buy clothes in such places. Now I dally vaguely window shopping, I suspect because I can, but I need nothing. As I walk past the first McDonald’s in our town I remember my mother bringing home fries once when I was sick. Probably sounds like a curious luxury to a world gone wild on fast food, but in the 70’s it was a big deal. I had strep throat for the umpteenth time with fevers that got as high as 105. She packed me once in ice to bring the fever down and would lay with me running her fingers through my sweaty hair until I’d fall asleep. I often slept on the floor with the fans because it was the only cool place to be in the summer. Even now I remember how unbearably hot I felt and the gallons of ginger ale I drank. As the scent of the fryers comes to me on the street I remember the taste of the salted fries she brought home. She sat with me by the sliding glass doors where a breeze came in and we shared them. It makes me weep to think about it. The ten year old shadow takes my hand and we keep walking.
This is my hometown and yet I could not feel any less at home. Walking along is an immersion in a time capsule. I no longer run from my previous selves, but I feel their weight here. I feel the lack of self-worth and fear she had. So much confusion of how to act or how to be. Loneliness. Isolation. I am a thousand light years from here and yet I find I want to find her on the next street. Take her shopping. Hear her laugh and see that lightning smile. Tell her, as Dr Seuss told us all, “Oh the places you will go, my love. Oh the places you will go.”
20 thoughts on “Hometown”
Oh Noelle ….first I send you a hug as I read with admiration your soul speaking in a clear and stunning yet sad voice …and yet a heart of hopefulness touches me …I’m so thankful you are here , now . Sharing a breeze with your mother at age 10 and the memory of it , so heartfelt that it brought me too , back to my own memory of knowing I was completely loved as a child ( it’s what gets me thru a lot of the time ) …your writing style is so beautiful ! love and hugs , megxxx
Isn’t it funny how taste and smell can launch us back decades to love? I’d give anything to taste her potato soup or smell Thanksgiving stuffing wafting through my own home now. Yes, you are right, that love anchors you even when life feels a torrent of change and misfortune. Thanks for the compliment. You and I have a mutual lovefest. I particularly love how you marry the most physically affecting images to what you write. Not easy to do. So I bow to you, my friend. It is a joy to have your company in the blog ether.
Poignant and touching… xo
Thank you, my dear. Love the new pic, BTW….
Very touching but hopeful as well. It gave me a different way to process my flashes of the farm and grade school horrors. You are quite brave in dealing with the past and sharing in your blog.
And Dottie’s daughter you are!! I guess that period was more formative than I recognize and that it sent me off in different paths from the rest. I admit I am still hanging on to that myth of “fitting in” or “being one of the crowd” instead of embracing my individuality.
It’s best not to fit in. Life is infinitely more interesting out of the mainstream, I’m sure you’d agree.
Yes, the things that bring back memories! Your post left me remembering when my bargain-loving grandma in Connecticut took me clothes shopping at Caldor. I was young enough to still be blissfully clueless about the idea of clothes being divided into fashionable and unfashionable.
A meditation question for you: When you feel bogged down in memories of things that bothered you long ago, do you often find that it’s helpful to imagine a conversation in which you tell your younger self what you wish you had known?
I’ve done inner child work many years ago where I have engaged in those sorts of conversations. Now it is more awareness of these versions of myself that have existed over time who comprise the person I am today. I feel more the weight of the story than a weight carried in feeling. When emotional stuff does get built up I’m a much bigger fan of EFT/tapping and Shin Jin Jyutsu. Great question. Thanks for coming by. Where did your mother live in CT if you don’t mind my asking?
Wilton, on a little street just off Wolfpit Road. It was still pretty rural then, with lots of wooded areas, meadows full of wildflowers and berries, and a big pond for fishing in summer and skating in winter. 🙂
A Tom boy after my own heart, I see….
Beautiful, thoughtful words. I feel like I have been privy to your most private thoughts. I hope it gives you the freedom and serenity you deserve. Peace.
You are lovely for stopping in, Steve. Others have said similar things in previous posts. I think one of the things I love about the blog is I can just be myself. I don’t have to wonder if my writing can be sold or really what anyone thinks. I assume if they don’t like the writing they’ll wonder off. It’s allowed me to explore things I might have allowed to float through my mind and not give any thought to. Even though some moments seem hard, I feel no tension in wading in and allowing them to wander about for a bit. They are snap shots, weathered and old, and beautiful in their own way. It has, indeed, brought me a great peace. Blessings, my friend….
So lovely to have you back my friend. I like to talk to my own ‘inner child’ but tend to say something more along the lines of “Look at the places we have been and how far we have come my dear.” I have never heard the Dr. Seuss quote before, but think every child needs someone to say it to them.
Oh if you have never read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr Seuss it is most definitely worth a read. It is often quoted at graduations or gifted to seniors. Wonderful book.
Believe it or not I have never read any Dr. Seuss! I will have to look it up, thank you.
You have never read Green Eggs and Ham? The Grinch Stole Christmas? Oh I need to fire up the hot cocoa and pull you up a chair. I do an awesome Sam I Am….
Beautiful writing. A heartfelt story Noelle and ‘oh the places you will still go.’ There is so much to discover. How is your book going?.
Last images went to the publisher today. I still have to go through the editing part, but hopefully won’t be huge. Beyond that I’m not wholly sure how this process works, but I’m sure there is an element of “hurry up and wait” coming….
Yes I think that is exactly what happens! I am sure it will be great.