Driving away from the old farmhouse I grew up in, I was pensive and melancholy. I knew the place was rundown, but to walk into the now-abandoned shack that held so many memories was such a letdown. I wanted to find a way to shake my sense of unease.
Another place that holds wonderful memories growing up was Lake Michigan, and Silver Lake to be specific. On my way, I drove through my hometown of Hart that was just a mile or so from our farm.
Making my way past Hart Lake, I turned left towards the cemetery where my mother was buried. I stopped to see her little headstone with the wrong birth year on it. I have always wondered what the story is behind the incorrect headstone that marks her grave.
It never seemed to bother any of us, because that grave wasn’t her home it was just a marker with her name on it.
Tomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again” and after my trip to Michigan last month the literal meaning of that title hit me hard. If you have been following my story, you know I grew up in a small town in Michigan. In August I flew home to go to my sister Janet’s memorial service.
It was a somber trip dotted with memory lane moments and visits with old friends and family. I stayed at my sister Linda and her husband George’s 40-acre country home and we spent a lot of time sitting on her porch chatting.
On the day of the memorial, we headed towards Lake Michigan to join our family for Janet’s service. As I sat in the passenger seat looking out at the countryside rolling by, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.
The best thing about moving is you get to start over. No one knows you or your history. There’s no long-established notion of who you are.
That’s how I felt at 19 in Bend, Oregon. I was determined to make a fresh start. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest was a little bit like growing up in a fish bowl. It’s not that all 2,000 of us knew each other; it’s more that it just felt that way.
Bend was two thousand miles away, away from my old life, and away from being the poor farm kid. With a staggering population of 15,000 people, for me it felt like a big city, and it was love at first sight.