I walked through the empty rooms of our house and everything was strange. Time made a loop and it was as if we were looking at the house again, seventeen years ago, when we were moving to Kansas City; but this time with a hint of bittersweet in the air, as I wandered the rooms, searching for any lost ephemera. For the last time I looked at my childhood bedroom, with the faded place on the wall where my collection of tiny figurines was held; for the last time I looked at my teenage bedroom, dents in the carpet the only evidence of where my bookcases once were. I passed by nails in the walls and remembered the pictures that had hung there. All the traces of our lives had been wiped away.
As I went through each room, I did not feel exactly sad; instead, it felt right to move on. Having lived away for many years now, this was no longer "home," but rather my former home. Thinking about it now, though, there is sadness in leaving all that behind. This is the setting for my coming-of-age, the backdrop for all the stories of my growing up. My memories of family are rooted here, and now they must pass to another location. Years of doing homework on the couch, or family dinners, or holidays in the living room, or sleepovers in the basement…These will all be filed away behind a veil of time. Not all of this is bad though; there are hard memories here that have softened over years. Fights with my brother, fights with my parents, teenage angst, last memories of my father…these are ghosts I am ready to leave behind.
The further I move away from "home," the tighter I cling to a midwestern identity. Even as I myself change from that archetype, part of me holds tight to the picture of myself where the Midwest is where I belong. Just listening to overheard conversations in the airport made me realize how much I've changed since leaving home; but it won't stop me from claiming my roots, no matter how far I stray.