This past week I traveled to Ohio to visit my parents. They had recently moved from my childhood home to a condo. In my urban mind, a condo is an apartment you purchase, maybe a townhome. But, in the midwest, and I suspect other locations, a condo appears to be a ranch-style single-family home with the amenities of someone caring for everything outside. Strange as it was to be visiting a house I had never stepped foot into, I found it to be a lovely next act for my folks. With their belongings and furniture neatly curated and tucked into the interior of the walls, it still had a familiar sense of home. And, when all is said and done, I believe it was a sensible and timely move for them.
One of my favorite activities in their previous home was to take a cup of coffee in their backyard oasis and contemplate life, as I am often wont to do. This time, I situated myself, early in the morning, on their back patio, which looks upon a small forest of trees. There, as the winds blew the leaves and the chimes, which were gifted to my parents just after my brother’s passing, I listened intently to the bell-like tinkling and the whispers of the swishing gusts. As I was sipping my coffee and missing my brother fiercely, I started thinking back on childhood, lost youth, and remembering the dreams manufactured in a way only a hopeful young person can.
During this visit, I somehow found myself walking the halls of my high school, a building I don’t think I’ve entered for many, many years. It hadn’t changed a bit, and though this might be an odd thing to say, it even smelled the same. I can’t quite describe it, but it just did. This is the school I was attending when I could not wait to leave and be on my way to New York City. I stepped into the auditorium and laid my eyes upon the first actual stage I had been on. Instantly I was transported back to the plays, musicals, and variety shows. It reminded me how deeply connected I feel to theatres and stages; they feel like home.
And as I traversed through the halls filled with lockers, my mind was flooded with memories – of meeting my friends to walk to class together, the boy I had a massive crush on teasing me or the way I didn’t really feel like I fit in. It all came back.
So, I was fueled by this visit as I sat in the wrought iron chairs, finishing my coffee and thinking the thoughts only a seasoned woman in her fifties can. I embrace the young girl who believed she would be a star, or an artist, or something beyond her wildest dreams. I revel in knowing that I have achieved a life as a dancer, choreographer, director, and writer. I feel reignited.
And, to this town, this little town in Ohio, I’ll be back. Not to live, of course, but to visit. There is a peculiar sweetness when I return to my hometown. A place I never quite felt I belonged in but understand more than I like to believe.