The Old Stomping Grounds

I’m writing in bed right now; a rarity, because we normally don’t allow our computers up here. Smart phones and Kindle Fire, yes; laptop, no. I’m not sure why we have that distinction, but we do. I have been known to text, FB, and tweet in bed, my husband sleeping by my side. I am a social networking whore. But this is well-known.

I’m up here because my husband is having a meeting downstairs so I have banished myself. However, I have been thinking a lot about environment today so it only seems fitting that I should change mine in order to write about it.

I needed to run an errand in an old neighborhood today; not the one in which I lived, but one where several ex-boyfriends and friends did. Although it was covered in snow and my fonder memories took place in summer and fall, driving through those streets, the past (emotions, memories, thoughts, and snippets of conversation) formed a nearly tangible miasma. It didn’t help that I was listening to the Sirius/XM 90s station at the time. I may as well have been right there, right then: big, teased, permed hair; dressed as a preppy from the scarf wound through my hair, past my fitted blouse, beyond the tailored, pinch-rolled slacks, to my penny loafers. Oh, my. I think I had the same boobs but they were higher, and I was a hell of a lot skinnier (weren’t we all?).

That part of my life was fun, sweet and innocent– before I had my heart broken for the first time. And later, the second. And then the third. Then I had to break someone else’s heart, and I did it in a less-than-eloquent way, for which I am still sorry. All this came back to me as I wound through the still-familiar thoroughfare. A few streets down: a couple of years had passed, and I was back there again. Older, but sure as hell no wiser. Same people (I had not yet learned from my mistakes); then later, new people. But the same locale. And with those new people, I can’t say it was any different. Stupid decisions, and a regression of sorts. I wonder if this is why I keep in touch with so few friends from high school. Certainly, I am dreading our reunion this year. I vacillate between thinking “It will be fantastic to see X or Y or Z again,” and “Oh, that bitch who cut off our friendship just when I needed her most will be there? Maybe I’ll skip it, after all.”

It brought to mind a recent Twitter exchange I’d had with a friend. Age does not determine maturity. I think so much more of it is environment. You move on, physically, geographically, and emotionally. But if you get stuck in the same location, or with the same people, it holds you back. Stunts your emotional growth, so to speak.

This is not always a bad thing. I love spending time with my brothers and their wives, when we go out to dinner, the six of us. So mature. But I also adore family picnics at my mom’s house, filling water balloons with my “baby” brother and soaking my cousins. I tease them, and in general act like the bratty teenage girl I once was. Yet, we still have fun (or so I think; they may have differing opinions). I just think it’s fascinating how that happens, and not always in a good way– you see dysfunctional relationships re-establish themselves within minutes of getting back together with the people who helped you form them in the first place. It’s OK to act childish at times; to maintain those ties, as long as there’s plenty of slack to grow, move on, explore.

And yet there are times when I wish there were more slack, that we had moved away when we’d planned to years ago. Like when I make a new friend and we hit it off so well and I think “Oh, we’ll be great friends! The families can get together,” and then she introduces me to her husband.

Whom I once dated.

But I don’t tell her this at the time. And then I miss my window. Now every time I see her I am reminded of this so…there goes what could have been a good friendship. Oops. Let’s file this under Awkward Small-Town Problems.

My point in all this rambling, and I think I have one, is that you need a balance. Tether yourself, but leave a lot of slack. Anchor yourself to your hometown, maintain those ties, but move far enough away that you can grow the eff up. Because then on the odd occasion you do get caught up and yanked back into that mess for a short time, it’s easy–and a relief–to just drive on through and leave it behind.

Right, then; this whole post sucks. This is an example of the sort of stream-of-consciousness writing I did in my college Philosophy classes. No point, no structure, and I’m not sure there was even any sort of strong conclusion. How in the hell did Dawn and I pass those classes?

Unfortunately, I think the answer lies back in the big, perky boobs.

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About Kerrie Strong

Years ago, I chose to suppress my creative side in favor of a career (or two, or three) in science. This blog is filled with exercises intended to reverse the atrophy of my right brain. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.
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