It is funny how certain I am in that statement.
This is especially true when, though silent mathematics, I realize that in a few more years, I'll have lived away for longer than I resided in this house.
Still, despite making the same observation each time I inch into city limits-- that it feels like time has slowed and that nary a day has passed since my last visit, even though it has nearly a year-- it never fails to astound me.
I know people define hometowns in different ways. Some label it the place where they were born, others the place they resided the longest, and others eschew the notion of hometowns altogether. For me, it is puberty that makes all the difference in the world.
We only moved here when I was ten, and while I have fond memories of tree houses, picking raspberries, and sloshing in pig pens, life prior to moving is more a series of idyllic snapshots than a genuine connection. I re-visited that city years later, and found little to be familiar outside of the numbers on the mailbox.
But here, everything is soaked in memories.
And nothing stands out more than firsts-- which are what adolescence is all about.
My first french kiss was in the foyer of the civic centre.
My first date was also in the arena at the same location, where the junior hockey team still plays.
My first drink was down a precarious hill, in a secluded wooded lot, the entrance of which I pass every time I walk downtown.
My first time drunk was at the youth centre, where skateboards still echo today.
My first time skinny dipping was late at night, where you can see the lake narrow as you pass on the highway.
My first real job was at the only mall in town.
My first time smoking pot was underneath the bridge we drive over on our entrance to town.
The first I love you I really believed at the time was on a rock overlooking the water where we still picnic, whereas the first I love you that I still believe was real was spoken across the room from where I now sit.
My feet are touching the same place my feet touched when I lost my virginity.
These memories flood me as my eyes catch another detail or my feet turn a corner, though only a few make it past my lips. I fear that if I started, really started, the words would be like a waterfall, an unstoppable stream of consciousness, and might drown those around me.
And, so, I let a few leak, like raindrops, while the rest swirl about in my head, until I step on the plane and they drain into the background, seeping away to make room for the other details of life.