Monday, September 29, 2008

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Why is it so fun to take people to the place you grew up? You know no one gets as excited as you do about seeing your elementary school playground or the first place you ever bought wine with a fake ID, yet you still get that welling of pride as you show off the many facets of your old stomping ground. Maybe it's because we each have a story we want to tell about our lives, and visits to our hometown provide illustrations and references points that mere words and descriptions don't sufficiently bring to life.

This weekend Matt and I went home to Rochester along with a number of our other college friends for a wedding of a college friend who happened to grow up in the same city as I did. While a trip to Rochester, NY doesn't hold quite the same anticipation as a trip to the Big Apple or Windy City or City of Angels might, I do believe that beautiful Rochvegas did not disappoint my fellow travelers. (Either that, or they are simply too kind.) Rochester in the fall is simply beautiful too - especially if you are traveling north from the still-humid Southern states!

The wedding was a fantastic affair, made better by the reunion of friends who slept, ate and studied in close proximity for almost 4 years. The boys have a bond that has transcended the space that naturally fills in when friends graduate and go their separate ways. It is encouraging to see that their rapport picks up immediately wherever they last left off. In other words, they physically and verbally demolish one another immediately upon reconvening. Nothing like it.

We are defined not only by the landmarks we grew up around, but the people who populated those spaces with us. While I loved seeing my husband and his friends light up with each other's company, the highlight of my trip home was time spent with my Grandpa. What strikes me as odd is that in 26 years of my life, this was the first time I have hung out solo with my grandpa. I guess this isn't totally unusual, as most of my trips to see home would have been with family. Over an endless cup of Denny's coffee, I grew bold enough to ask all the questions about my grandmother I wish I had asked while she was alive. The stories of her childhood that he could recall, to the moment he saw her, the first years of their marriage. My version of my grandmother's life starts in 1982 and while every grandchild would love to assume they are the center of their grandparent's universe, I have always wondered what the 58 years of her life leading up to my entrance, stage right, entailed. Grandpa, fueled by caffeine and an English muffin, did not disappoint. Hearing descriptions of people I have never heard of who shaped my Grandma's life in her late 20s (my age now) as she met, married and mothered reminded me that I am part of a world so much greater than I but part of a family so tightly woven together. There is simply no way to get lost in a world where you are grounded by a family so dear, friends so genuine and a endearing love for the places that have witnessed these relationships.

Who says you can't go home?

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