Please listen while you read!
Hello my fellow Earthlings! I have recently had a new found appreciation for my hometown and the memories that fill it so I thought I would document it. The drive to my childhood home has always been one of my favorite drives to make. Most likely because of the familiarity that surrounds it and the comfort it brings me. I like how I know every curve and turn in the roads and not to mention every pot-hole and I know where you can speed a little and get away with it (don’t tell Mom and Dad). This is also a nice contrast to driving on all the roads in Atlanta that are still so foreign to me .The drive to my little town tucked away from the world, is not particularly noteworthy to most. In fact we joke that if you blink you will drive right through it and not even notice. However to me, as someone who has driven the roads repeatedly over the past 10 years, I see things that others may not. I see these things for the memories they hold rather than the objects or landmarks that they are. I can hear my parents in my ear now saying “if it truly is your favorite drive then why don’t you make it more often?”
Spring Break. For some this means a week of road trips with friends or family and time spent at the beach. For me this means I might be able to slip away from my new life as an “adult” and make the journey home to my family for a night. I have procrastinated packing again. I may only be able to slip away for one solitary night but I guarantee you I will find a way to over pack. Perhaps I will “forget” to bring something to sleep in so that I can borrow one of my Dad’s old T-shirts again and then “forget” to give it back. My phone rings and as if my he knew my thoughts, my Dad is calling. I tell him only an hour more til I’m home again. My bags are packed and ready for departure. 55 minutes on the road until I pull into the driveway to find that they have left the porch light on for me (their way of welcoming me home)…
I make the turn out of my apartment complex and towards the interstate like every day before, only now I go North. My home is North. It takes me a minute to find the music to suit the drive and to match the grey skies that hold the promise of impending rain. My favorite weather to match my favorite drive. Soon I overcome my indecisive nature and make a music selection. Gregory Alan Isakov fills the car and despite the threat of rain, who would I be if I were to resist rolling the windows down. With every exit that I pass I get closer to my exit and closer to the back roads and shortcuts I know all too well. With 37 minutes left in my journey I pass the exit for my old apartment in Kennesaw. I remember I made the drive back home to my family much more when Kennesaw was my home. I wonder if with each year that passes I will visit home less and less. Is that how growing up works? I keep driving. 25 minutes remain and I have reached my exit. I turn off the Interstate and I pass all of the new construction that has ensued in my absence. My small town is slowly feeling less and less small. It has grown up without me, much like my siblings that wait for me at home.
A sharp left and am at home again on my favorite bumpy back roads. I pass the fields that are full of cotton in the fall and look as if they are freshly blanketed with snow. I am always sad to see it harvested and the brown Earth revealed again. With 20 minutes left I pass my old High school. They have torn down my favorite old tree on the hill to make room for more parking. I remember climbing the hill during our Journalism class at the end of the day to just sit in the lap of the tree until the bell rang. A right turn past question mark hill (named Justly so, after the shape that the lampposts make when they are lit at night) and I pass the trails I ran for cross country after school my senior year. 15 minutes left and we turn onto Euharlee Road and this is the part where you have to make sure you don’t blink or you’ll miss everything. At this point the sun is setting but you can see the river on the left through the trees. Through larger gaps in the tree line you can see Plant Bowen which is a coal fired power plant but we like to tell out-of-towners that it is a nuclear power plant. We advise them that they shouldn’t worry as there haven’t been any deaths in years (cruel joke I know). I remember that my Dad used to tell me that it was a cloud factory and being the gullible child I was, I told my entire third grade class that I lived near the cloud factory and every one laughed…including my teacher (thanks Dad) With only 5 minutes left, we pass my favorite part of the drive…
The cow field across from the entrance to my neighborhood. Sadly the cows are not out to greet me as I slow down to check for any signs of them and make a right turn. Driving through the maze that is my neighborhood I remember all the things we used to fill our time with in these streets. Back in the days when we were sunburnt and shoeless kids and our biggest worry was whether or not we could run and grab money for ice cream before the ice cream truck passed by our street and the opportunity was lost. We would longboard and bike to the back of the neighborhood where we discovered trails that led down to the river. We would fill our back packs with food and towels and take our cameras to document it. I stop at a stop sign and the road to the back of the neighborhood and down memory lane is straight, but I turn left. I pass the best hill in the neighborhood to sled down when it snowed. Our neighbor was always kind enough to let us sled in his yard and share his snow with us. We would all take turns pushing one another down the hill until all the snow was gone. 1 minute remaining and I turn onto my street. In the distance I do in fact see my house with the red door and the porch light on. I pull into the drive way and park my car in my spot between my parents’ cars. I greet the animals before the humans of course and Nellie is whining for me to come say hello. She sticks her nose under the gate to greet me. Sometimes she seems more excited to see me than the humans who reside here.
After bellies are rubbed and kisses are supplied I stand in front of the red door. I announce my arrival and I leave my bags as well as my emotional baggage by the door. I will pick them up again on my way out.
I have arrived.