I went to a spot I used to go to every Friday afterschool for about a year. When I went there the paint was new and everything seemed shiny and clean. People I knew worked behind the counters. My memory of this place is so perfect in my head; I could tell you the exact location of the furniture and which chair had the weak bottom that also seemed to try and swallow you whole.

I went there today, the first time in a while; a couple years atleast. A lot has changed in those couple of years. A good number of people that I would go there with I no longer know; though some I do. I’m different; married, living across the country. Older, wiser (I hope), and all that jazz.

I walked in and my breath caught a little bit. The couches are gone, as is the basket of books and crayons for the kids (see here: high school seniors who loved to use them to decorate their shoes). The front part of the shop is completly different. There is a new room and the art work is in different spots. There is a thick layer of dirt and dust on pipes hanging from the ceiling and the counters and signs no longer look fresh and new.

Starting this year I knew that going back to this spot would never be the same. Not only has the space changed, but so have we, it’s long forgotten inhabitants. We’ve all changed and most of us have moved away; now one of us is gone for good, well, atleast for now.

It’s all the same, but all so different.

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There was a massive flood in my home town two summers ago. The end result of which changed the landscape of my youth in this city. This has been the first time I’ve been back since with any kind of time to observe and take it all in. The bowling alley, home many great bouts of cosmic bowling: gone. The little restaurant I worked for as a waitress: gone. Places I’d skip off to during lunch break: gone. The field where we used to burry treasure: the new suburban sprawl. The building I spent summers in trying to be a musician: boarded up. The building I walked in for graduation: closed up and surrounded by fences. And so many other littles things: gone and different.

The phrase is “You can never go home again” and I’ve known this for a long time. The ache is bittersweet and I’m happy that I can look at these empty buildings and gravel lots and remember when they were something a little bit more.

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My family owns a some land, most of it is for raising crops but we have three little spots that I call the Homesteads. Only one of the Homesteads still has a house on it. The second has a barn rumored to date back to the 1800’s and the other is only hospitable for members of the bovine family. On the third are a series of old trees planted when my grandfather was a little boy by my greatgrandfather. The house is gone and the ground is cut up and rocky, but the trees are still there.

One day I want those trees to shelter a little house once again. Maybe there will even be a little garden and chicken coup like my father remembers.

And one day maybe my little house in the future will be gone, and someone will look at that empty lot and getting a little ache in their heart when they remember what it used to be and know what it should be again.

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