As I've grown older I've learned that people tend to be brought together by occasions. Weddings, baby showers, graduation parties, high school reunions...these are the good things. We bitch and moan about having to buy the gifts and book the trains, but we get to see each other and we reminisce and we laugh.
And then there are other occasions. These ones bring us together as well. And -- perhaps -- even more so.
For the better part of the past week and a half I've been back in my hometown. While I do go back to see my parents somewhat regularly, this trip was not your run-of-the-mill visit. I was there to say goodbye to an amazing man and to be there to provide comfort and solace to his family, in any small way I could.
And so I went back to Plymouth, MA. My parents still live in the same house they have lived in for over thirty years. The same house I grew up in. The house that slowly evolves as the years past, with new siding, new chachkies, new electronics...but that largely remains the same.
I haven't lived there for more then a couple months at a time for nearly 11 years. Since I left for Brandeis in the summer of 2005, I've always looked towards the "next thing." Towards moving further away from my past and more towards my future. College. New York. My MBA. Detour to Arkansas. Back to New York. Work. And now where to next? Single, no real estate, just Archie and me doin' our thing...the world is truly our oyster.
And meanwhile Plymouth has always just been there. The detour I took when visiting friends in Boston for long weekends. The holiday destination. The big, small town where I go because that's where my parents and some of my friends live. And then I'd go back "home" to New York, to the fast-paced excitement, to the drama, to the noise, and think how lucky I was to be away from Plymouth. Ugh. So boring. Never changes.
But in the past year I've started to see Plymouth differently. Maybe it's because I've changed recently. I've become more sentimental or old-souled or something like that. Or because family circumstances have necessitated it. Or maybe it's because New York has -- finally -- lost a bit of its luster (don't worry, NY, I still heart you...) Or it's something many of us who have left the small town for the big city adventures start to see.
Or maybe -- just maybe -- its a special connection with Plymouth and me. To the people there. The way I was raised and the town I grew up in but never saw until I had a decade's space.
But I went back these past two weekends and, oh, did I see it.
I have friends from high school, from before high school even, that cut so much deeper than what I could write in words here. They know me. The pre-New York and "fancy" apartment me (joke for those of you who have actually seen the glamorous real estate I call home. The drama and band geek me. The scared and insecure and painfully quiet me. The "you are smoking crack if you think I'm running a mile" me. The me that made me the me I am today. (Getting deep, stay with me).
I know their houses and their streets. Their stories and their history. And I know their families. And too many of them have experienced tragedies that have shaped the experience of us as a group of peers and friends.
And so here we were. Together again. Mourning the death and celebrating the life of one of the "good ones," who was taken from us far too soon in far too tragic of a manner to even still truly comprehend. And we cried, and we laughed, and we drank, and we talked. And I ran.
I ran because I was training, of course. But I ran because I love to run. And we were celebrating Alan, who had so many hobbies and past-times of his own. Bocce, cribbage, cooking, TV (and -- yes -- I do believe TV should be considered a hobby and I will fight you on this subject if you want to get into a debate. And I will probably win.) And so I celebrated my new hobby. My new past-time. The thing they will say about me when, hopefully many years, it's my time: "She loved to run."
And while I ran I thought of Alan, and of his family, and of this town that he loved so much. So much that he would put his life at stake to defend it as one of its Firefighters. So much that he would live here his whole life. Why?.
There is a difference between when you drive from point A to point B in your town and when you walk it or run it. When you're on the ground, looking around and taking everything in, you can actually see the things that your eyes simply glanced at before. And I looked around. I mean, I really looked.
And I saw the tourists, peering to see THE ROCK only to be more like...
But I also saw why they might want to spend money coming across the country, or the world to see my little town.
I saw the truly gorgeous Cape Cod views.
I ran up our adorable little Main Street, actually look at the windows of the shops I formerly labeled as "boring" or "weird" and now have evolved to call "adorable" or "quirky."
I ran by the Jenney Grist Mill, a working reconstruction of the actual Grist Mill which was built in 1636 (thanks Wikipedia).
|Could this be quainter? No. Impossible.|
I ran through Brewster Gardens, and saw the "duckies" I hadn't really noticed since I was a kid.
I ran by my childhood temple's community center where I spent so much time as a kid. It's the place I went every week for Sunday School, where I spent every high holiday, and where my sister and I became Bat Mitzvah so many years ago. And I saw how very church-like it is. And the fact that it is one short block from the waterfront, a view that land-locked mid-western tourists pay top dollar to see.
I saw some things that struck me as amusing...
|Damn. Had really wanted some smelt!|
...and others that were just plain beautiful:
|The Mayflower is yonder. In the haaahbah.|
And -- near the end of my run - I saw a pair of beautiful swans swimming, together, in Jenney Pond, known to me as a kid (before they outlawed feeding the birds) as the "Duck Pond. Always a pair, and always living in Downtown Plymouth. Happily.
They are home. And, no matter where I end up in this world, no matter how far I run and how many new hobbies I take up or experiences I have... I realized that home to me will always be Plymouth. And I feel blessed to know I can always, always go back.