My flights from Edinburgh to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Minneapolis went smoothly and on time. Of course its always the final and shortest flight that has to screw everything up. We boarded 30 minutes late. Then we had to deplane because the thunderstorms in Des Moines were too severe. We waited another hour. Then we took off. Then the storms were bad again, so we flew in circles in the air for another 45 minutes before finally landing. I was supposed to arrive in Des Moines at 8:30 pm and didn’t get in until 11:30. But this is what I loved about the whole experience…
I was immediately reminded of why Iowans are the best people you’ll meet. They’re so freaking nice. Any other group of people in the airport would have been groaning, whining, asking the gate agent a million questions, etc. (I was even starting to wear thin at this point after I had been travelling for almost 24 hours with no sleep). But not this group. While we were waiting to re-board, someone goes, “Well folks, at least its not a snow storm, am I right?” and everyone laughed in agreement. The woman sitting next to me at the gate offered to share her snacks with me. There was a group of people huddled around someone’s iPhone periodically giving the rest of us updates on the weather radar. When we re-boarded, one man said to the flight attendant, “Well, look at that. You’ve still got a smile on your face! I appreciate that” and as we exited the plane in Des Moines the ground crew were at the door with everyone’s carrier luggage that hadn’t fit in the overhead compartments. One lady, as she was being handed her suitcase, said, “Wow! That was so fast. Thank you so much!”
These people…always remembering the upsides.
**The waterworks started going the second I walked off the plane and by the time I made it to my parents in baggage claim I had to promise that I honestly wasn’t sad to see them. If you’ve seen the movie Inside Out, at this point I could imagine Joy and Sadness sharing my memory marble. Fortunately, my parents know me well and so they just laughed and said, “We’ve been preparing ourselves for the fact that you will probably be like this for a few days.”
When I finally ventured into town the other day I almost had a little panic attack. I was naive and thought maybe I could get away with working on my paper in a coffee shop inconspicuously. But what actually happened was that I couldn’t even make it to the counter for 15 minutes because I knew the next 7 people who walked through the door and although I was really, genuinely happy to see all of them…it was just a lot all at once. And maybe jet lagged brain wasn’t ready for the onslaught of realisations that I’m actually home. I decided to walk back to my dad’s house (which is about a 45 minute walk that goes from one end of town to the other) and I can’t walk by anything without there being very specific memories attached to it.
The corner of Jefferson and Washington where I got hit by a car (well, technically I hit the car) because my bike breaks went out.
The last house we lived in as a family where my favourite cat is buried and where I was told things that changed my entire life, really. Where we had bonfires and covered my bedroom wall in written memories and lip prints.
Smokey Row, where I got to work with literally all of my best friends. Where we took espresso shots before prom and Emily spit hers out across the entire counter. Where I met customers who felt like family and who’s orders I remember still to this day. Where we listened to Kanye West’s ‘Graduation’ album in the dish room about a million times and yelled at kids who were making out in the loft.
My dad’s old apartment on the square where I experienced by first heartbreak. Where we sang the star spangled banner really loudly and obnoxiously from the roof during Tulip Time. Where my outfits consisted of combinations of pearls, purple eyeliner, lace tank tops and cardigans in every colour of the rainbow.
The cannon, where Rachel gave me lessons on how to swear.
The canal next to the movie theatre where Caroline and I once waded for quarters and came up with enough to buy a piece of cake. Score (apologies for all the stolen wishes)! Where I went to many midnight movie premieres. Where I once sat through all of The Devil Wears Prada with my head tilted to the side trying to get rid of my swimmers ear because I had jumped off of the cliffs at Red Rock.
Happy Joe’s, the most frequented venue of summer 2005. Cheese sticks. Boys. Arcade games. Watching music videos. Skateboarding.
Central College where I met some of my favourite people in the whole world. Where I attended epic dorm dance parties and enjoyed the benefits of McP’s mini cupcake maker. Where I played games of Nuke ‘Em and graduated from high school. Where I raked leaves and chased around little Marco. Where I departed from to take off for Haiti and Reynosa, trips that grew my faith, deepened my relationships, and widened my worldview.
The park where Walker and I had a wedding for our trucks. Where I smoked my first cigarette. Where I saw my first girl fight.
Kevin’s house where in the dead of winter we listened to Bright Eyes records and drove around looking at Christmas lights and having stupid deep discussions.
Aaron’s house where I passed out in the lawn after being hypnotised at prom. Where we stayed up late talking after I threw his bachelor party. Where we’d play card games, listen to Jason Derulo, and make tiramisu.
This list could reach novel-length. But the point being…small towns don’t really change. But you do. And then you come back and you realise that you can go live on the other side of the world. You can go experience all these other places. You could even spend the majority of your life somewhere completely different. But home never leaves you. Not really. And home is obviously a place, but it exists in people, too, I think. When you revisit, it hits you that certain aspects of your being are completely gone. They’re dead. They don’t exist anymore. But you know how you can listen to a mixed tape from ages ago and certain songs bring you back? They bring back a moment in time and you feel like you’re actually there for 3 minutes and 45 seconds or whatever it is. Isn’t it the same for people and places? Like the other night…getting in my truck and driving to West Market Park to meet up with Cameron brings me back to a certain time. We are different now. Life is so different now. I’ve seen him in various, more recent contexts and continue to ‘grow up’ with him, but 16 year old Cameron and Taylor still exist in the recesses of my mind. I don’t know if this is making sense or if it sounds like sentimental nostalgic shite. Probably the latter. But oh well. Obviously, you will never remember something exactly as it was. You will never have these memories forever. You cannot realistically go back and relive them. But I find something really mind blowing and comforting about memory keepers. I think to live with chronic nostalgia would be a terrible, terrible thing. However, sometimes a good dose is helpful in a transition season to remind you of where you came from, realise where you are, and prompt you to ask where you’re going.