“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” – John Ed Pearce
After twenty years of living in the same state I boarded a plane for Seoul, South Korea. I haven’t been back in over fourteen months. I still have a pristine album of home lodged in my mind’s eye. As if anything I’ve seen recently could contend with two decades of memories. I shut my eyes and flip through the pages when I catch a rough feeling of homesickness.
On this page a coffee stain frames our 1960’s kitchen. My mother left it there. She never misses her two-cup appointment with the best café in the world. My family’s morning always starts in the kitchen. Not in our bedrooms or even the bathroom. We are truly awake when the caffeine hits our lungs.
Outside the kitchen lies the sleepy street where I chased my little sister through our neighbors’ flower beds. On our grey steps outside our front doors I would listen to my father play his recorder.
I grab my car keys and hold our sable corgi back with one leg while trying to squeeze by. My parents shout in unison, “Lock the door!”
Nothing feels more like freedom than speeding a few miles over the limit, windows down, and bass turned up. Decreasing the momentum and volume as I enter the roundabout in front of Mount Vernon, I quickly catch up. The George Washington Memorial Parkway is always beautiful during fall. I’ll take twenty minutes of uninterrupted beauty over Route 1’s convenience.
Slowing down again as I enter Old Town, I take a right down Franklin St. to avoid the stop lights posted every two blocks. This neighborhood seems almost too quiet. Million dollar, brick town houses guard their owners’ privacy so well cars parked along the street are the only indicators that people actually life here.
Closer to the Potomac, the activity picks up. I welcome any stop to allow me a quick, distracted glance around. It takes sharp eyes to find a free parking space. I dread the tight spots next to Founders Park. I would let my best friend park for me…if she knew how to drive stick.
This is our dominion. We’ve annexed the Starbucks on King St., the Torpedo Factory, and the park. It’s not too much to take. The city council can keep the boardwalk and the rest of the city. We just want these three places to discuss our important topics: coffee, art, and life.
I could turn the page and visit King St. during the winter when all the trees white, Christmas light dresses. I could take the car back down the Parkway and turn off at Fort Hunt Park for a spring picnic. Or I could turn to the countless Fourth of Julys spent watching fire works explode on the street in front of our family friend’s house.
I left home right after university. I don’t plan to return permanently for a while. I know I can always visit when I remember. When I am older maybe I’ll go back for good.