THE PLACE YOU GREW UP
Growing up happens when you start having things you look back on and wish you could change. — Cassandra Clare (City of Ashes)
growing up is often synonymous with growing older.
‘oh grow up!’ is dramatically spoken when the frustrated sayer is looking for more maturity, or for a change in behaviour, opinion or essentially, way of being from the sounding board.
so when we’re trying to figure out growing up, it gets confusing and the lines get blurred. are we physically changing, mentally moving forward or adjusting to our environments at defining moments?
i grew up in a house sitting on twelve and a half acres in the country. it was spacious and cozy and smelled like my mother. the windows were open. i shared a room with my sister. it was pink. she moved to the basement after many years and then it was blue. there were dogs.
i made my bed every day.
i went to small schools and played outside. i am the oldest of three girls, and was cared for by both my parents, with consistent influence of one set of grandparents. there was care and love and safety. there was travel and knowledge and competition.
this was the place of my growth from age five until essentially nineteen. i still returned for summers for another couple years, but wasn’t really there all that much.
my dad and my maternal grandmother still live there. there are still two dogs. i have only returned there a handful of times in the last decade. the place where i learned to read, and swim, and drive, and be has become foreign. although the memories remain, they no longer feel like they happened there. they are not tied to a place.
i am no longer sentimental, i don’t know if i ever really was.
when i drive by the house, or even the road that leads to the house there is a feeling of unease, loss and sadness that envelopes me. on the few occasions that i have travelled up the driveway (it’s a long one) i am uncomfortable and detached. it doesn’t feel like going home. it doesn’t feel like the place I grew up. it doesn’t feel like i belong there at all.
the knowledge that my own boys wouldn’t learn things there, wouldn’t feel love there, wouldn’t be enveloped in the smell of my mom — those thoughts used to torture me. time has helped with that. growing up has helped with that.
the emotional and mental growing up happened much later. it’s still happening. it will always happen. there is much to learn. there is much to understand.
people perplex me. i think they always will. my growth does not guarantee the growth of anyone else. this understanding has been part of my growing up too.
the place i grew up lives in my memories. there is nothing that can erase those memories. as cliché as it comes, you can never go home again. and i can’t. but as i secretly wish that my babies never grow up, i know better. and when they do their growing, and wherever that growth takes them, i hope they always come home again.
Here’s more on the Creative Writing Challenge