This week, my favorite thing was not anything I found online. It wasn't anything I could buy or make or eat (unusual, I must say). That's because this week, I was able to fly back home to Albuquerque for a long-overdue visit with my family and friends who live there. It had been almost two years since I had set foot in my hometown and I spent three jam-packed days catching up with friends, traveling to Santa Fe with my parents, and having my breath taken away by the memories that seemed to be waiting around every corner.
I drove by a diminutive building where, I suddenly remembered, I had once taken an Irish Step Dance class (Lord of the Dance was big then). I stumbled on the batting cages where my high school boyfriend used to work and I remembered bringing him take-out, and then making-out, in the dingy little office. There was the library that used to have the beautiful rose gardens tended by our neighbor, Jackie. And the area around the bosque where my cross country team would sometimes go for long runs.
I've lived in Portland for more than 8 years now and, while I love it, I sometimes forget the power of a place to evoke memories. Yes, I've created new memories here but somehow they pack less of an emotional punch. Maybe it's because I'm continually layering new memories on the old by staying here. The places where my Portland ex-boyfriend and I used to go are often the places that I'm still going today. I'm desensitized to their presence. But in Albuquerque, the memories seem to be preserved in little time capsules, just waiting to be taken out and lived again.
I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if I still lived in my hometown. How much deeper my connection to the place and people around me would be. Would I be a different person, more influenced by the reminders of who I used to be and where I came from? Would it make me more authentic? Would it make me feel trapped? There is truly no way to know. All I can do is treasure my rediscovered memories and promise myself that I will return before another two years goes by.