Every person has a place they call home. A single place. A polaroid of a memory, if you will. The word "home" comes with baggage, with bits and pieces from childhood, like orphaned pieces to a puzzle that has long been scattered.
Home is a state of mind.
Long before I pull into the grey gravel driveway, the bits begin to congeal. As I drive down Main Street, I see my eight-year-old self riding her first real bike, long brown hair flowing in two tight pigtails.
And then the memory changes, and I see myself in the driver's seat of a cherry-red pickup truck. It is the briefest of seconds, as she passes me on the other side of the road, but it's undeniable. Me. The boys teased me for driving that truck, but I loved it with a fierce intensity.
The moment passes, as moments do.
I turn on Prescott Street and I see myself standing on the corner in front of the school in a navy blue prom dress, that same brown hair that had once been twisted into pigtails now pinned up in a cascade of curls. And there's a young man standing next to me in a tuxedo. It takes a minute, but I realize that it's Harvey, with long hair and the last remnants of teenage acne.
Our eyes meet, and I feel as though I've been electrified.
I've put too many years between myself and this place, I think as I pull my mini van into the driveway, nearly catching my right-hand mirror on the edge of the white fence, the way I always used to.
I close the door, and the sound is almost deafening.
I can see myself sitting up on the roof above the garage, nineteen. My last year of innocence, and there's Harvey, sitting next to me. The memory hits me like a brick in the middle of my stomach this time, because I remember it so completely, so vividly, and the love I have for this sleepy town is so intense, I can't remember why we all wanted to leave so badly in the first place.
That night hadn't even been that remarkable, but Harvey had held my hand. And it was late in the evening, yet somehow the moon had not appeared.
Harvey had said it was a new moon.
And all we'd seen was stars.
It's hard for me to move, hard for me to catch my breath again. I look at the red front door, the same door my mother had painted when I was twelve, the same door they carried her casket through when I was twenty-five.
It takes all I have to walk up the driveway and up the stairs. The door creaks on its hinges, and that familiar scent of cigarettes and strawberry jam meets my nostrils.
I am five years old.
I am forty years old.
I am home.