Moving back in with your parents at the age of 32 with a wife and kid in tow is fairly unsettling. Second only, I’m sure, to being said parents and having your house unexpectedly invaded by two adults, a child, a pesky golden retriever and a fish. Sure enough, it’s taken some getting used to on both sides.
And while I can only speak for myself, I have to admit: it’s not so bad.
This is my hometown and this house will always be home to me. It’s where I spent my youth. It’s where I went to school. It’s where MJ grew up too. I live 3 miles from my old elementary school and just a few more from the school at which MJ and I first met in the sixth grade more than two decades ago. When we got engaged we drove to the school parking lot, put on our song and danced in the falling snow.
My grandmother’s house is in this town on the reservoir where I caught frogs. I can name at least one family who lives on every street. I know all the restaurants, including Downtown Pizza, the place that kept me alive throughout my formative years with delivery trucks that automatically shot towards my house when you put them in gear. I know the best places to go for a walk, I know where the cops set up speed traps and I can drive the roads with my eyes closed.
My dad graduated from Norton High School, as did his father before him. I’m not lying or exaggerating when I tell you half of the teachers I had in high school also taught my parents. My parents met in middle school and were dating halfway through high school. Three years after graduation they were married. And while they’ve lived in several homes over the years, all of them have been in Norton.
My mom is involved with the church because my grandmother was the choir director until her death in 1996. My mom also drove the school bus. My dad has been a selectmen in town twice, a finance committee member and currently serves as the Town Moderator. He also writes a column for the local daily newspaper. High school sweethearts? Check. Lifelong residents? Check. Total townies? Big time check.
All of this to say that for a creature of convenience like myself, this kind of familiarity is extremely comforting.
I’m a traditionalist at heart. And the older I get the clearer that becomes. So I’d be lying if I said the thought of Will spending time in the same town and house I grew up in didn’t please me in some small way. So far I’ve taken him to one of my favorite ponds, showed him my grandmother’s old house and walked on the field on which I learned to play baseball.
I even took him to the cemetery where my two grandmothers, grandfathers and two aunts are buried. Which sounds a little morbid, but really isn’t at all. He may not have met all of them, but he’ll hear stories about them and learn from them nonetheless. It’s important to teach kids to pay their respects.
Every kid grows up trying to escape their hometown and I was no different. I swore I’d get out and never come back, at least not for good. But the more places I visited, the more I saw my hometown wasn’t so bad. And then I slowly realized it wasn’t just “not bad,” it was pretty damn good. Finally I became a parent and realized it’s a helluva place to raise a kid.
Hometowns have a way of calling you back. They’re magnetic in more ways than one, and you can’t underestimate the strength of roots that are dug in deep.
In a few months we’ll move out and have a new place of our own. But in the meantime, I’m listening to the call of my hometown and enjoying what it has to offer. Will loves being with his grandparents (while simultaneously missing his Nana and Grandpa B back on Cape Cod, the one big downside to all of this) and I think he’ll really benefit from getting to spend so much quality time with them. And I get to heed a timeless call, raising my son in the same place I was raised. Fostering an appreciation for a town that will always be special because it will always be home.
Welcome home kid.