I grew up in a small town. Not the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone, but the kind that’s just small enough to be annoying. I ran into the same assholes year after year in school, with a random smattering of new faces to give the illusion of diversity. I spent 13 years learning with the same people, in the same run-down schools in the same mile-long stretch of road. It was cloistered and smothering. I hated it, if you hadn’t gathered that already. Not in a visceral way, I didn’t want to burn the town down or drown myself in the lake, I just wanted to leave. So, I did.
I decided to go to college. I ran away (in a manner of speaking) to the big city of Seattle to learn and grow and mostly get day drunk while watching Disney movies. I learned a lot. I grew as a person. I made friends, talked to people, separated myself from the person I used to be. I was happier than I’d ever been. I was on my own in a foreign-ish city (orientation had been my first overnight trip to the city). I explored and had fun. I learned to be okay on my own. For the first time, I really understood who I was. I knew myself and didn’t have to rely on anyone else. It was lovely.
As much as I loved college, it had to end. Four years of life, with occasional class attending, ended with a twelve-page paper about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and two graduation ceremonies. I thought the world was in front of me. I thought my life was about to begin. That train of thought was corrected almost immediately after my final graduation.
As I walked out of the ceremony to meet my family, it became obvious I was no longer in control of my own way. I was ushered by family immediately to the car. No time for pictures or, god forbid, saying goodbye to friends I may never see again. My family was uncomfortable with the crowds and suggestion of traffic on the freeway. Screw my goodbyes and my happiness. Forget my new home. That life was over.
I left Seattle to move back home. I thought, hey, how hard could it be to find a job. Ha. What an idiot. I lived in a small town. There were no jobs. All of a sudden, I was stuck. There was no returning to Seattle. Not without a job. I needed a job to move back to Seattle and find a job. You see my predicament. But this is not the worst part. I was back in a small town after having gotten out.
Coming back to the small, safe, stifling town I grew up in was, and is, torture. It all seems so much worse now. Everything that seemed small when I was in high school seems tiny now. Everything that was bad is now worse. There is nothing to do. I mean that. Even the bowling alley is closed by five o’clock. I try to go out, but I keep running into people I went to high school with and I can only pretend to not remember them for so long. I am suddenly aware of how much I never liked it here. Now I understand the visceral hate. I would give anything to burn this hell-hole to the ground.
I made a new life somewhere else, and now home doesn’t seem quite so much like home anymore. Now everything about my old home seems tiny and horrible. I guess that terrible old cliché is true, you can’t go home again.