Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All the Other Kids Grow Up Too

How many homes does one have in their life? Not just a house, but a home, a place where there is a sense of family or community?
I just had to come back one last time, sings Miranda Lambert in “The House That Built Me.” 

In 1994, I went to high school with my direction facing the rear view mirror. I thought if I could just return to middle school every now and then I’d remember what I was afraid I’d forget. 
Del Dios Middle School became so much like a second home to me, I spent afternoons in the teachers lounge. I copied papers and put spiral bound backs in student print out documents. Mostly, I chatted. 
“So, I have this teacher who....” 
“I want to be President someday, still, but....” 
Honestly, I don’t think I ever had anything interesting to say, but I didn’t want to leave. 

Just as much as I didn't want to leave, I was in love with my Grandma. When she passed away in 2006, I could't believe I hadn't returned to her home, where so much love could be found, in so long. So, in 2008, I made the journey. I thought, finally, coming home. But, Grandma's house wasn't Grandma's house anymore. I looked for any evidence that it was, and immediately, outside I spotted what was once my swing, worn, tattered, used, and rusted, yet waiting as if just to say "hello." 
My "Swing" Outside Grandma's House (2008)
You leave home, you move on, and you do the best you can, I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am. 
In 2002, I left my first job at what was then a Fox affiliate in San Diego. While working there I described it as a playground.
“Anne Marie, how can you run around barefoot!” someone would yell from the sports office.
“Because I can!” 
People would be tickled by the copiers, mini breaks were taken upstairs to make hot chocolate, and no matter what we all always went out for drinks afterwards. 
I remember this one time we convinced one of the main anchors and a weather anchor to come out to karaoke, something the rest of us did every week. Somewhere, on video, they are singing “I’ve Got You Babe.” 
When the men would sing, the girls and I would toss panties, yes panties, to them and scream like we were 17. The hostess of the karaoke night also worked at a strip club. She came with props. 
We had some really, really, fun times. Really. 
In 2009, I went back to that first job for a job interview. It was just happenstance, but someone who worked there when I did still remained and said to come on by. 
She took me inside the building, the same building that I had dreamt about getting lost in, and finding myself in, for the previous seven years. I had never left it. 
“Rust,” I said to her as I looked at the stairwell that had once been so clean and white. “Smudge,” I said again as I noticed dirt on the walls. I cringed inside a little because it wasn’t anything like coming home. 
Then, just as I felt a tinge of tears lulling me out of joy, I heard someone say, “Anne Marie.” 
Two years later, almost to the day, I returned to my latest home, hoping to take more than just a memory. For the first time, the place looked the same, some of the faces were still familiar, and the feeling inside was just right. I had come home.
Yet, I recognize there is always some nostalgia in “coming home.” Eventually, all the other kids on the street grow up and move away, too. It’s always fun when you come back to visit and there’s at least a few you can talk to at the mailbox, or catch up with during a morning run. Yet, they all leave too and we’re out looking for a new place to call home. 
They say home is where the heart is, and depending on who is in your heart, and what makes it beat, and has your chest rise and fall; it’s one place, or no place, or many places at the same time. 
I’ve found home in the teacher’s lounge at a middle school, in the studio of a TV station, on the stage at a bar on karaoke night, and in a little desert town where some people think you only retire, and ultimately, wherever the people I love happen to be. 

1 comment:

  1. Seeking my "home", the part of my past life where I think I will be most comfortable or most loved, has become something that I have been doing more and more lately. Sadly, the more I look, the more I discover that I can't get back what I've already left. I'm still trying to fight that knowledge.


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