This past week I traveled to Ohio to visit my parents. They had recently moved from my childhood home to a condo. In my urban mind, a condo is an apartment you purchase, maybe a townhome. But, in the midwest, and I suspect other locations, a condo appears to be a ranch-style single-family home with the amenities of someone caring for everything outside. Strange as it was to visit a house I had never stepped foot into, I found it to be a lovely next act for my folks. With their belongings and furniture neatly curated and tucked into the interior of the walls, it still had a familiar sense of home. And, when all is said and done, I believe it was a sensible and timely move for them.
One of my favorite activities in their previous home was to take a cup of coffee in their backyard oasis and contemplate life, as I am often wont to do. This time, I situated myself, early in the morning, on their back patio, which looked upon a small forest of trees. There, as the winds blew the leaves and the chimes gifted to my parents just after my brother’s passing, I listened intently to the bell-like tinkling and the whispers of the swishing gusts. As I was sipping my coffee and missing my brother fiercely, I started thinking back on childhood, lost youth, and remembering the dreams manufactured in a way only a hopeful young person can.
During this visit, I somehow found myself walking the halls of my high school, a building I don’t think I’ve entered for many years. It hadn’t changed a bit, and though this might be an odd thing to say, it even smelled the same. I can’t quite describe it, but it just did. This is the school I was attending when I could not wait to leave and be on my way to New York City. I stepped into the auditorium and focused on the first actual stage I had been on. Instantly I was transported back to the plays, musicals, and variety shows. It reminded me how deeply connected I feel to theatres and stages; they feel like home.
And as I traversed through the halls filled with lockers, my mind was flooded with memories – of meeting my friends to walk to class together, the boy I had a massive crush on teasing me or the way I didn’t really feel like I fit in. It all came back.
I was fueled by this visit as I sat in the wrought iron chairs on my parents’ patio, finishing my coffee and thinking the thoughts only a seasoned woman in her fifties can. I embraced the memory of the young girl who believed she would be a star, artist, or something beyond her wildest dreams. I revel in knowing that I have achieved a life as a dancer, choreographer, director, and writer. In some ways, I can honestly say I did what I set out to do. But I also feel reignited. I suppose the old adage, “It ain’t over til it’s over,” definitely rings loud and true for me. I’m not finished yet. There is still so much to accomplish. And I couldn’t find myself in a better place to continue living life, making art, and loving this world.
And, to this town, this little town in Ohio, I’ll be back. Not to live, of course, but to visit. There is a peculiar sweetness when I return to my hometown. A place I never quite felt I belonged in but understand more than I like to believe.