It is funny how, by virtue of the process by which something becomes deemed as home, it gains some sort of special power.
The most noteworthy seems to be a certain timelessness.
While the rest of my life may be a whirlpool of rapids, my little hometown is always floating to the side in a still pool.
I haven't lived there in six years now, and my visits have been becoming unfortunately less frequent as of late. This visit was my first since Christmas. Yet, as I get within about an hour of it, waves of familiarity strike me, and once I enter city limits, it is an odd feeling that goes beyond familiarity. It's just normalcy-- like I never left.
Maybe it's due to this constant sense of normalcy that the most minor changes shake me. I go to the local bar, and most of the people there don't know my connection to it-- to them, I'm the stranger. I get aggravated by my parents rearranging the layout of the kitchen. It just feels wrong not to know where the spatula is, as though there is something inherently right about it being in the third drawer from the left. I notice the most random changes in town, including new siding on the local businesses or a different road sign.
Another rule about home seems to be that you are never able to grasp how amazing your life is as a teenager, because you are always of the mind that the grass is greener on the other side. I return now, and am in awe of the fact that I was blind to the beauty of this place. One can grown accustomed to some of the strangest things. The Duke and I took a drive out to one of our old camping sites, and he was blown away by it, saying it was probably the most beautiful place he'd yet seen. And I couldn't believe that these clear waters were so normal to me then.
The third rule seems to be that the landscape is overflowing with memories. Each beach, park, or road seemed to have some adolescent right of passage attached to it, whether my first time getting drunk, or first time skinny dipping. It is funny how what may seem like simple scenery to the naked eye is intrinsically imbued with snippets of faces and emotions for me.
Returning home also involves numerous other benefits. My parents were out of town for the month, which was a blessing and a curse. It was sad in that I am close to my parents, and tend to miss them a lot, so I felt a little guilty that my only return in quite a while was when they were absent. However, it did mean we had the house to ourselves, which naturally involves a little more freedom, and a little less pressure on the Duke to spend a week with my folks.
So we reconnected with many of my old friends, ate at many a good restaurant (cooks need to learn that the more garlic, the better), hosted a few dinners, and perhaps drank a little more than we are usually inclined. Drinking, for some reason, tended to involve near constant games of Who Would You Rather, which alternated between killing and screwing. We had to make a rule that it could not involve anyone at the table after the Duke kept on trying to make the subject pick which of the people present they would save from death. The game can definitely be a little telling. Apparently general consensus is that Queen Elizabeth is more sexually appealing than Prince Charles, and I was one of the only one who would rather sleep with Oscar the Grouch than Elmo (the other friend in agreement pointed out her belief that sullen men were generally better in bed). Apparently, also, you cannot taste a shot of vodka when put in a pint of beer.
Other drunken highlights included a fifteen minute discussion of sprockets ("Sprockets, bitches!") that apparently, including to my designated driver boyfriend, was just the same two jokes being told over and over again, and numerous photos being taken with this man's twin:
(*Ding, ding, ding* You win, Ultra Toast!)
My friend's stepfather's resemblance to Willie Nelson is a little legendary, so after a few drinks, we convinced him to braid his hair in pig tails, wrap a cloth napkin around his head to resemble a bandanna, and took approximately 50 pictures in various poses with Mr. Nelson's twin.
The trip also consisted of a number of side trips to swimming holes...
... my friend's crazy dad's house, where he keeps turkeys in a bathtub
... giant pennies
(Sorry, but no face shots. You know the rules.)
...and various other locales, including lookouts, beaches, ferry trips, candy stores (which sold Harry Potter's all flavoured beans... I literally had to spit the vomit flavoured bean out on the street, and swore I felt grit in my teeth when I ate the dirt flavoured one) and restaurants that only served pizza before 5.
The trips to and from Mountainy Hometown were also pretty big highlights. There is something soothing about getting lost in scenery and music. The 700 km trek back is also an incredibely diverse landscape, which helps prevent any boredom or cries of "Are we there yet?"
This is actually fog, not smoke!
This is my personal favourite.
The comical moment of the trip home came when we decided to stop for ice cream and a dip in a resort town plump full of children on inflatable sea monsters and pasty divorcees. The Duke pulls onto the side of the road, and is happy to see that I have actually remembered to lock the passenger door, as I have been prone to forgetting throughout the trip. He does the same. And then we hear the engine running... behind a locked door.
Although it initially showed signs of being a full scale catastrophe (e.g., calling 411, and having the operator give us the number of a tow truck company a mere 300km away), we thankfully we able to find a cheap solution in about half an hour.
And although the sky was beginning to look like this,
and rain was soon to follow, the lakewater was soothingly warm.
So I swam, and the trip's only genuine annoyance quickly washed away.