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you can’t ever go home again

June 5, 2009

Went home last week.  Flew into Bellingham, Washington where I went to college, just as the sun was setting on a late spring evening.  It’s a small airport where they make you do things like get off the plane in the middle of the runway and walk across the tarmac like you’re landing in some rural airport in Africa, headed for a safari, and luckily I was wearing my straw hat.  There was a flight attendant standing at the front door of the airplane where there had never been a staircase as we had unloaded through the back, the plane looking as grand and unwieldy as Scarlett O’Hara at a Taco Bell, she was shielding her eyes from the orange sun, and it seemed at that moment that there could be nothing better in the world than being a flight attendant taking off and landing from small semi-rural airports in places like Bellingham Washington, and Kalispell Montana. 

My friend Rhett picked me up from the airport, and there’s nothing like driving in cars with your ex-boyfriend at the start of summer to make you feel like a high schooler again, which is not at all a bad way to feel some of the time. 

We went out that night, but none of the old people were around, and the ones who were didn’t want to be there.  We were all confused, running into walls, and turning lights on and off in random bathrooms, and it seemed like you shouldn’t go back again, but also kind of like you should.  Stayed the night on my good friend’s couch, and the sun woke me up early so I went for a walk around the old neighborhood, and couldn’t believe it had been almost a year since I graduated.  No one was really out at 8 in the morning, making it the only time that things seemed the same as they ever were.  The street wasn’t filled with strangers who were getting younger.  Maybe if you are going to go home you shouldn’t try to make any plans, but just wander around, and do what you came to do anyway, which is to prove that it all happened just like you remembered, which of course it didn’t. 

But if there was ever a morning to be in Bellingham this was it, sunny and green, and the houses were still the most beautiful I’ve seen.  I wandered up to my old house where I lived last summer while my relationship unraveled, and I completely forgot how to fight with someone I thought I was supposed to love, or else I completely forgot how to love someone I thought I was supposed to fight with, which is exactly the same thing if you want to know the truth, but I never did.

 It didn’t look so sinister, just a nice white house, with the prettiest view I won’t appreciate for awhile.  The blinds were closed on the windows to our old room just like they always were, and I left.  I suddenly had the most intense feeling of returning to someplace where I had spent a lot of time, but where I had not been the same person, which is not at all a bad way to feel some of the time.  After all, the way we miss our lives is life.

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