I really hate admitting that there are still times that all of “that” and all of “them” still pinches.
Those pinches often happen when I drive the main drag of my former home town of 24 years.
Wouldn’t you hope that by now, with my life as grand as it is, that it wouldn’t get to me like it does?
That town was my home. It was the place that I chose to live my adult life, to raise my kids, to die. I moved there before it was cool; when people from just over the county line asked where my town was and offered to bring me groceries.
I never thought I’d leave.
it all happened.
My life was irreparably upended. And the world around me felt hostile and untrustworthy and condemning. I was uncomfortable everywhere.
Especially in my own skin.
After 20 years of calling it home, I no longer felt safe.
I learned very painful lessons about friendships and community.
Over the years, as I healed, I was able to relax a bit. And yet, not completely. There were still (and still are) places I wouldn’t go. People I really didn’t want to see.
As I said, I wish it weren’t so, but it is.
I never thought I’d leave, but then, due to circumstances beyond my control, under the cover of a global pandemic, I snuck right on out and overnight, expanded both my world and my breathing space.
But, I still go back to town – at least once a week. Today.
And when I do, I feel my anxiety twinge and tingle as I drive the last few miles into town. It’s not debilitating and it’s not stopping me from getting a cup of coffee, but I wish it didn’t happen at all.
I swore that I wouldn’t be chased out of town. That I wouldn’t leave just because it felt really fucking small. This was my town. My community. I belonged here. My children were from here. Somehow leaving felt as if I lost. I couldn’t hack it. I was a coward. That someone else won.
I swore, if I left, it would be running TO something, not running AWAY from something.
When I am at my home, in the canyon, or at the farm with TAM, or sitting under my big tree with my girlfriends, new and old, I feel as if I have expanded, as if I outgrew that small town and have now discovered the big wide world. I believe that I ran to this place. And that’s mostly true.
But when I turn onto the business route into the old town, I quietly, reluctantly, admit to myself, “Yeah, I did run away.”
That’s also true.
And while I wish it weren’t that way, wish I didn’t feel a bit defeated, I also understand…because of the angst I feel whenever I am there…I had to leave to fully heal. There is a shadow there for me that isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
I got chewed up and spit out there – by people, by circumstances, by life. It changed me. I am a different person because of it. I give myself credit for trying to make it work for as long as I did.
And I give myself credit for finally giving up the ghost and getting the hell out of there
It makes my desert refuge that much sweeter.