Last week, I visited the town where I grew up. My mom needed some help around the house, and it had been a while since my last visit anyway. Soon after I arrived, we went out to the grocery store, like you do. And that’s when I noticed something.
People were looking at me weird. Some people who I’d known since childhood (my Girl Scout troop leader included) didn’t recognize me. And sure, I’ve dyed my hair a few times, and cut it here and there, but I didn’t think that I looked that different. So why all the weird looks?
I kinda fixated on that experience for the rest of my visit. Why were people looking at me? Is it the short hair? I know small towns aren’t the most progressive, but I’ve had a short haircut before… When I realized that I don’t think I ever really firmly fit in where I’m from. I don’t mesh well with small town culture. There were a hundred tiny differences in attitude that I guess I always knew where there, but had ignored for so long until I came back from the place where I had fit in.
I went to college in Upstate NY. Sure, it’s not Manhattan, but it was still very different from the small town where I was born. Cafes are open until 10 PM. Everyone makes sure their outfit is polished before leaving the house. Almost everyone I met there was liberal. And after about a year, I had started calling that “home.” I’d go visit my family, and then I’d go home. Now that I’ve moved, I’m homesick for the place where I’ve only spent four years of life (as opposed to the one where I spent eighteen).
Going back to visit my family this last time solidified it: their town is where I come from, but it’s not my home anymore. I don’t fit in there. It’s not my place. I’m not sure Boston is either, but I hope it starts to feel that way. I made a home in Upstate NY, and I’ve really been missing that home. It took me so long to find a place where I was comfortable as myself, and I left it.
Hopefully now that I’ve thought on this I can start to do something about it; hopefully I can make a home in Boston. Hopefully I can stop feeling weird every time I go out in public with my family, because I am from out of town now. From here on out, I’m from Upstate NY.