My hometown is not small. It’s not very big but it isn’t small, either. It’s growing all the time. They’re making the health centre bigger, the mall has been re-done, there are two Chinese restaurants now! And even a café in the town centre.
I went there for Easter. During these two weeks I walked on pavements I hadn’t walked on for years. I paid attention to the old graffiti, the woods I played in when I was a child. The way the light looked like in the hallway of the apartment building I used to live in.
I drove in and around town, parked the car on the side of a country road to get out and take a picture of the sunset. Something I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t left, I don’t think. Suddenly things look so different…
I went to the town library. I took the elevator up, I walked inside and was instantly taken back to when I was 13 or something, rummaging through the CD selection and borrowing piles of them at a time; Tori Amos, all these different jazz albums, strange Finnish artists… It was the scent, the magazine stands that stood exactly where they had 10 years ago, the same librarians. I made my way to the children’s books and tried to find my favourite book from when I was young. It was funny, and made me feel really nostalgic how I could now see over the shelves so easily. Before I had to be on my tiptoes to do that.
Eventually I did find the book – it was a book called Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay. In Finnish, Saffy ja Sienan enkeli. Saffy and the angel of Siena. It’s a story about a bohemian, artist family with kids that are all named after different colours, except for Saffy. She’s different. She also gets to travel to Siena.
I sat down for a moment and read a few pages before I had to get going again. (It’s a good book, you should all read it.)
Walking around town gave me so many different feelings. All the different buildings and houses – the old ones, the new ones, my friends’ houses, buildings I had lived in with my mother,… they all hold a different story, all make different memories rise out of me. People leave, they move but the memories stay.
There are things that stand out from my hometown, things that I do genuinely love and people who wish I stayed there, “at home” but the thing is, it’s not my only home anymore. Like I wrote in one of my very first posts on this blog, “my heart seems to be in tiny little pieces, scattered around the globe”… and it still stands true. I’ll ask the same question I did in that past post which is, “what does the word “home” really mean?”
What does it mean to you?