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With the holidays coming up it's hard not to think about going "home" for the holidays. But not all of us consider our hometown to be "home." The town I grew up in was a prison for me, not always. It was only after I had moved away and then moved back to my hometown that I really began to realize that I didn't belong there. That it no longer felt like home.
Most people look at their hometown and think back fondly on all the memories they had there. Some, more than others. Don't get me wrong, I had good times in my hometown. I enjoyed my social life outside of school and caused some mayhem that I'll never forget. But... looking back doesn't do that much for me. With all the good memories comes all the bad. I can't help but remember all the times I got made fun of in school, all the times family drama happened at home and immediately everyone knew about it. I think about how I was automatically categorized and placed in a group, even by my "friends." It was nothing special, this happened to pretty much everyone I went to school with. It just rubbed me the wrong way.
Everyone seems to like coming home and going to the local dive bar and having drinks with everyone we went to high school with. This doesn't exactly give me a thrill either. Most of the people I went to high school with didn't talk to me in high school and I have no desire to talk to them now. I don't hate them. I don't dislike them. I just don't feel like we should pretend we were friends just because we're both back visiting. We weren't and we're not going to be now, so why pretend? I don't want to have a beer and reminisce. I want to hear about what's going on now. I want to know why you never moved back, because I know why I didn't want to.
I didn't decide that I didn't want to move back to my hometown until after I discovered I was pregnant. I immediately thought to myself, I don't want my daughter going to the same damn schools that we went to (her father is also from our hometown). I don't want people judging her based on mine and her father's decisions. And I definitely don't want her to have any of my old teachers (I wasn't the best kid in school). I want her to have more opportunities than I had to expand her view of the world and not hang out in the same places that everyone in our town has been hanging out at for the last fifty years.
I think one of the main reasons I don't consider my hometown "home" is because I found a home somewhere else. In my long and completely off the beaten path journey, I found a place that likes me for me. I found a place that I feel like I fit in no matter what. I can go to the local dive there and just hang out and play darts and it isn't a class reunion. I don't feel like everyone is judging me based on what I did or didn't do after college. They honestly don't care. I'm accepted for the crazy mess of a single mother that I am. I'm not still looked at as the girl in high school who drove a truck and was always in detention. I'm looked at for who I am now. And I have grown so much since high school.
My sister doesn't come back to our hometown much anymore. She avoids it if possible. My dad is remarried and while he is still living in our hometown, he has started creating a new life. I'm happy for both of them. Our lives are pulling us in separate directions and this year, we won't even being spending the holidays together. But we will be spending it in places we can now call home. My sister has found a new home in another state with her new husband. My dad has found home in his new wife. For him, home isn't a place. It's a person. And me, I have found a new home with my daughter, in a town that I love with people that care about me. So this year, I will call my sister and I will call my dad and we will say our Merry Christmases and I love you's. And I will be happy, that we have all found a places that we can call home. We found a sense of home that we hadn't felt in a very long time.