Monday, January 06, 2014

Back Where It All Began

On the evening of the 14th December, I arrived in my hometown. It felt very much like a town and rather like home, I was pleased to discover. I stayed three days with my friend Pam, whom I've known since kindergarten, and we did all the things that we might have done on a winter's weekend thirteen years ago.

We went cross-country skiing around the field behind the elementary school, and downhill skiing at Kissing Bridge. We built a sled hill in the yard, played board games, played Christmas music, and watched Christmas movies. We ordered wings, went to Ted's for hot dogs, and hit up Anderson's for roast beef sandwiches and sundaes. We even took in a Sabres game.

My eyes, which are used to narrow streets and old, flat-faced apartment buildings, found Tonawanda much flatter and more spread-out than it used to be. The houses looked very short and the streets looked very wide. My ears, which are used to hearing German and understanding relatively little of it, were surprised by every person who walked by speaking English (and American English at that!) and every cashier, bank teller, and server whom I could speak to without rehearsing my lines or referring to a German-English dictionary.

It's a strange sensation, going somewhere familiar when what's familiar feels foreign. Nice, though, knowing exactly what you would find if you turned right at the next corner, carried on straight for a mile, turned left, and then right, and then left again. Nice knowing which shop to visit when you need snowpants and which errands you can run on the way. Fantastic walking into church and being swarmed by people demanding hugs who have known you since before you were born.

I am a nomad, not a homeless waif. Every few years it's good to reaffirm that. 

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