I’ve been back home for about two months now. They’ve been some of the fastest and fullest months of my life. I was happy to be back and I am happy to be back, but the shine of it all has worn off a bit. I’m no longer turning to people who’ve lived here for decades and saying, “Did you know Greensboro had so many trees? It’s green here!”
The discomfort of transition is settling in. I can identify the feeling, because I’ve dealt with it before—several times now. It starts in your gut and then if you don’t address it properly it leaks down through all your appendages till at last it comes spewing out of your extremities onto other people in the form of illogical irritability that no one in the room understands, least of all yourself. Best to avoid that.
At the heart of my transition-pains this time is the reality that everything around and within me is both deeply familiar and enormously strange, simultaneously entirely the same and completely different from before. So this is me addressing that. Properly.
Things That Are The Same:
-I’m living in the neighborhood I grew up in, the only neighborhood I’ve ever lived in in Greensboro.
-I’m teaching at Caldwell, the place my entire life in this town has centered around.
-My parents are still here growing their garden and reading their poems and inviting me over but requesting that I call before just dropping by.
-My Aldi is the same. I go on Friday afternoons just like I used to.
-My dear little Kia is still here. The time to replace it is fast approaching, but it’s seen so much of life.
-I’m at the same church I was at the year before I moved away, which is full of many, many familiar faces.
-I hang out with the same women on the weekends. We still plan girls’ night.
-Hanging Rock is still here, as is Cook Out and Krispy Kreme and the Goodwill on Battleground. All pillars of my adolescence.
-And despite the passage of time, the little idealist who sometimes hopefully tap dances in my chest, who sketches out the biggest of dreams, is still alive and kicking.
Things That are Different, However:
-I’m living in my own place, all myself, and am fiercely interested in how the space is arranged.
-I sometimes worry now that I’ve become a cynic—something I think I’m still too young for.
-I’ve written a whole novel set in the place I’m working and sometimes I get the fictional world confused with the real one. Writing feels weightier.
-I schedule so many more phone dates now. (Because there are so many more far away people I love.)
-The clothes in my closet are 95% different (but, let’s be honest, the number of items is probably roughly the same.)
-My confidence level has risen, but so too has my guardedness.
-There are very few familiar faces from before in my classroom—there arose a generation that knew not Alice.
-Horse Pen Creek Road is four lanes now, which really threw me for a loop at first, but honestly, I’m four lanes now, so I guess I’m okay with it.
Basically, if you’re looking to pick my exact location out in all this messy paradox like I’m Where’s Waldo, you’ll find me balancing between the two extremes, same and different, laughing loudly and crying freely and sometimes just watching the quiet carnival of my life.