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My geography isn’t off. I’m not trying to pose or be something that I’m not. I’m aware of where my birth certificate lists me as being born. I lived there for 14 years, built lifelong friendships, and went to school there. It still isn’t home.

I’m home now exactly where I longed to be. The home I probably should have never left.   There were times that I wasn’t here and fought until I was back in my comfort zone. This is the only place where I’ve felt settled and have found my place. I’ve never felt like I was the odd one out.

Although not perfect, we definitely had our rough spots I missed my other sisters but I finally had a family that functioned like “normal.” Little girls weren’t molested and  physically and emotionally abused, and best of all there was no isolation from my absolute favorite person, my father. There were sisters I barely knew, 2 that were practically babies, and 1 that I could conspire with.

There were things that I never thought I would be able to do. Things that most teenage girls take for granted. Football games, leisurely trips to the mall where I hung out with friends and maybe kissed a boy or 2, I got a job, went to dances, and had time to to just be. My time wasn’t consumed by religion and only friends deemed appropriate by the Bible.

I guess I expected time to stand still until I was back home for good. Things changed and I couldn’t grasp how I felt about that for quite some time.

The apartment complex I lived in for years is  pretty much the same. I can still hear my cousins, sisters. and I playing in the pool.

Some of my favorite places are missing replaced with newer things. A shopping center sits right next to the old building I can’t even remember what was there all those years ago.

Of course my mall is  there even though the stores have changed time  and time again. If I close my eyes I can  see Woolworth’s, the record stores, the movie theater and arcade, even the toy store that  I would bribe my sisters with so they would keep my secrets.

I drove down Philip a few months back. I expected the feelings to be there. The nostalgia of bringing the second love of my life home months after a tragedy changed my sister’s forever. More than enough happened on that street in that apartment in that house.  The feelings only tugged a little. Neither place was there any more. The hospital bought the land for more parking I would imagine.

My house on Valley, right up the street from where Lebron made history is  there. It still looks the same the neighborhood has not changed at all. I can’t think of anything monumental that happened there. Some relationship things that I refuse to acknowledge, maybe.  I passed it and  wondered who lived there now. Did the current tenants have tons of laughs because they shared the duplex with their siblings? Was there always some shenanigans to tend to?  Did groundhogs still squat in the basement during the spring? Is the carpet  filthy and threadbare? Do the bitchy wife, and kindly husband team still own the place?

The hardest changes, the ones that make me cry from time to time, the ones that have me avoiding certain bus routes so as to avoid facing them, are those in my adopted neighborhood.

The summer after  I graduated has to top every other I can remember. Everything  seemed perfect. I was an adult still enjoying the perks of being a kid. We played hard and loved hard. I spent most of my time in his space I was comfortable there. They were my family as much as they were his. There was a proposal and plans that would change the rest of our lives.

We left for a time. When I decided that Home is where I wanted to be I came back. I had a baby then. Her people were still in the same house. The kids were bigger but her grandma was still there to embrace her and love on her like she did for the other girls. She still treated me the same even with the break up and some unresolved feelings.

I talked about the not so old days remembering laser tag and basketball at dusk.  Some of the same people lived in the same neighborhood and were glad to see me back with a new edition. Things stayed the same for awhile.

I was busy handling the ups and downs within my own family and bringing a new life into the world. I didn’t notice the changes and sickness that began to take over. The announcement was sudden. There was really nobody to mourn the changes with me.  Things were just over.

There was the house on Valley. I found what I thought was love and moved to pursue it. I never once thought that I should stick around to capture the memories. I assumed they would be there for me whenever I came back.

Things changed. The corner store is no longer there. A vacant lot stands in it’s place. The church a little further down is boarded up and looks like it has taken years of abuse with no maintenance. The Park is gone replaced with new shiny multi colored homes. None of the people I used to know live there now.

I haven’t gathered the courage to venture down his old street. I may be the only one that holds some sentiment for the place. I can’t face the changes head on. I’ll remember all of the times I’d  forgotten. The time when  all of this mattered. I know my heart won’t be able.

The back of the house tells me enough. It too has lacked maintenance. There are the tell tale signs of neglect. I’ve noticed the boards and the broken windows. The house just sits on the hill waiting. Waiting for the City to finally put it out of it’s misery. I pass it and refuse to look now. It’s too much.

Sure, the town where I was born has some good qualities. It  is great place to raise children and there is that feeling of familiarity that you don’t get living in a bigger city,  but I don’t have a sense of pride for it. Negative feelings and emotions take over when I’m there. After awhile I always feel the need to escape. I want to be back where I belong.

My home is where I lay my head and I dream about simpler times and the future.

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