When Memories Attack
"You can't go home again" Thomas Wolfe
"There is this old Indian legend, yeah, if you ever live in Asheville, you'll always come back." Some stoner chick girl I knew 9th grade.
It so happens that I am now dating my first childhood crush. My crush never left town. I did. Town being Weaverville, NC which is north of Asheville. North Buncombe County if you will. A world cradled in the Great Smokey Mountains in Western North Carolina. The story of the crush and I reuniting after 17 years is another tale, but as our relationship progresses, I have found myself over the course of the last several months revisiting my old haunts. Coming face to face with memories I had either shelved, purposefully forgotten, and maybe just plain old forgot.
It is not uncommon for one to feel out of sorts seeing that world went on without them. My hometown,(well I spent my first 10 years in NY, but for all intensive purposes this is my hometown-- full of firsts from kisses to beer, from bra to braces) was once a small city sheltered from most of what went on over the other side of the mountains. Beautiful, often-small minded, and quite a boring place to grow up in the 1980s unless you made fun for yourself. Now my hometown is chock full of trustifarians and wealthy retirees. Trees mowed down, stores up. Progress perhaps, these things are expected.
I've done several drive-bys the the house in which I grew up. A small three bedroom ranch on a cul-de-sac, a carport, and a nice wooded back yard. The first time I drove by the house, my crush stopped so I could look. I broke out in tears. Too many memories to handle, both good and bad. My mother, God may she rest in peace, memories of my mother. Memories of me being a pain-in-the ass teenager, memories of us moving in, memories of me sulking in my room listening to Blondie and reading “Mad.'" The second drive-by was equally unsuccessful. The current residents were mowing the lawn and I didn't have the nerve for once in my life to ask if I could just walk around their yard and People were hanging out in the cul de sac, a dog chased my car. I am not sure what I will solve by standing in that yard, but I think it will be cathartic. I need to do it. I need to do it private. I need to exorcise the peeping-tom who has caused me a lifetime of anxiety of looking out the window. I need to go back to see my mother, to see my father—though we speak every day, to see my sister who is now a mother herself. I need to visit myself.
My last visit to Weaverville this past weekend, I found myself in the Asheville Mall. Another old friend who I've reunited with was having a baby shower. I was determined to make it to Target, so I could get the gift, paper, card in one stop. I found myself impatient in the traffic that was never there. I decided to go to the local department store - Belk. The store where I got my first training bra. The store where I got my first makeup, Ivey's, is no longer. They have enlarged and remodeled the mall, but yet it still has pretty much the same layout as it did the last time I visited in 1987. As I wandered around looking for the Hallmark store, I found myself on a ramp. This ramp was sort of my hang-out, meeting place, I don't know what you'd call it. I looked up, and there I was 11 years old with Colette, a friend I was enchanted with and who got me in lots of trouble. We were across the ramp in the World Bazaar buying stickers, on the other side of the ramp in B.Dalton having purposefully raunchy conversations to upset passing eavesdroppers. There I was across the ramp in the Limited, or was it Brooks? Trying on clothes, battling with my mother about my weight, and how I'd love to be that slim person I was then. There I was on that ramp, hand bandaged from getting it slammed in the door, another family drama, confronting my first love as I walked with his other girlfriend. There I was.
Here I am.