Can you really go back home?
I asked myself that question when I drove around the neighborhood I grew up in with tears pouring down my face. Was I crying because I felt warm and fuzzy? Was I crying because I felt like I belonged in this place? Was I crying because the memories of my childhood washed over me, and I was saddened by the loss of my innocence? The answer is a resounding, “No.”
The tears stemmed from the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. Looking around, nothing had changed. The houses were still too close together and looked too much alike. Kid’s toys and bicycles still lie scattered on most of the lawns, and cars lined the streets. But, despite the similarities, I felt nothing.
Grasping for a feeling, I drove aimlessly up one street and down another. I found myself at my aunt’s house, my childhood best friend’s house, every house I lived in while growing up, the local ice cream parlor, the deli that I walked to every day for a yummy hoagie…well, you get the idea. Yet, they were just buildings. Somewhere along the way, I had broken away.
I felt so detached that my heart broke. Then out of nowhere it hit me. Those things hadn’t changed, but I had. I wasn’t that child playing in my yard with the neighborhood kids, and I wasn’t visiting my favorite aunt so my mom could run errands. Nor was I eating a hamburger in the ice cream parlor or chatting with owner of the deli. My childhood friend and I rarely talk to each other and, generally, we only see each other once in a Blue Moon. Everything had changed for me, and there was no going back.
While driving back to my real home, I thought about the heroine, Jaycee Dalton, in Destined To Be Three returning home after three years of running and the joy she felt. So, what was different for her? Why didn’t I feel somehow complete? Why didn’t I experience any joy of my own?
Well, the difference between us is massive. I left home because I wanted bigger things with my husband and child. Jaycee didn’t have the luxury of leaving for a better life or a great opportunity. No, she ran. She ran as fast as she could to get away, leaving behind the men she loved and the place where her heart belonged. She left her home.
Is the comparison of myself to Jaycee fair? No, not really. Jaycee grew up in Serenity, Kansas, and I certainly did not. In Serenity, people truly care about each other. They watch out for their neighbors, and they show up at someone’s front door for no real reason. Everyone is in everyone else’s business, but that’s okay. They don’t’ mind a bit because that’s what families and friends do.
Family, friendship, and love abound in this small town. They accept every person. No, actually, that isn’t the best way to describe it. They wholly and completely love each other. And when someone truly and unconditionally loves, they accept that person and all that comes along with them.
Honestly, I am a little jealous that I don’t live in a place like this. I would soak up the freedom and the openness that Serenity provides. Walking down the street, my heart would sing watching the townspeople’s unconventional relationships—men and women who love each other enough to share, same sex couples whose love is treated with the respect and understanding they deserve, and couples who have a deep enough connection to be able to dominate and submit to their partner or partners. The beauty of existing in a place where love is love and nobody has to worry about gossip or repercussions to their lifestyles would be magnificent.
Do I believe there is a place where life is like this? Maybe, maybe not. But, in my heart of hearts, I hope there is. Personally, I’m not moving anytime soon so it has no true bearing on my life either way. I will just have to settle for living vicariously through my characters. Luckily, that is enough to fulfill me until one day I find a place like this one on a map.