Home is where the heart was

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Did we touch? Probably not. We lay side by side on his sister’s bed in the dark, listening to the chaos in the house, feeling the seriousness of the moment. Graduation in a small town involves a lot of goodbyes, and it wasn’t until years later that I realized I didn’t say mine. I didn’t grasp what was happening. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have identified the opportunity, much less articulated it. And I didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t have a reason to go back. I wasn’t real to myself then. Its possible I even made this memory up.

I realize now too that I never really lived there, not like the rest of them. I moved in when I was 14, when the others were already established. At best, I was a temporary transplant, made even more tenuous when my father moved away. He and my stepmother didn’t consider me in their decision to leave, and I’ll never know if the move was truly necessary or whether they could have stuck it out for me. I moved in with a friend and finished high school without them. Its irrelevant now. But I never answer a “hometown” question when prompted, because it makes me feel like a fraud. I was a visitor, and the ties I feel to that place and time aren’t connected to anything solid, anything that would offer enough tension to enable me to find my way back there. The only line that has never been cut is the one that leads to that moment on graduation night.

Why did he pause there with me? Did he entertain for a moment the possibility of sharing something important? Did he want to touch me? I think now about how easy it would have been to reach for his hand. It’s a memory I should have forgotten by now, an instance that should have been swept away by an adulthood’s worth of experiences that have occurred since.

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