One of my favorite Beatles songs is Penny Lane, that song about nostalgia, about a small town, about missing what once was. The working class family and the row houses. The firehouse, the bank, and the barber. The gazebo in the town square.
This afternoon I was visiting my mom. After dinner we decided to take a little drive around town, my hometown. It was our version of Penny Lane. So many things had changed in our little Midwestern town, one small thing at a time, and we felt so nostalgic. In a good way.
We drove past our old family home, admiring the new fountain on the front lawn under that tree I planted one Arbor Day in the early 1970s, wondering how we had ever lived with six people in such a tiny little house. I enjoyed remembering playing in the school yard behind our house, how that school felt like home to me, how that school yard belongs to my family as much as it belongs to anyone. I could almost almost smell the chlorine and honeysuckle as we sat there in front of the fading white house. We headed away from our old neighborhood, remembering the many friends who used to live there, what was that boy's name I used to babysit, Mom asked? The one who is a policeman in town now? We couldn't remember.
We drove past the hospital where my sister Linda was born, the same hospital where I worked while an undergraduate social worker. We passed the park where my husband and I got married in the early 1990s, right there at the little outdoor brick bandshell as children and their dogs ran across the grass. We drove all of the way down Main Street, talking about old friends, seeing our old dentist office and remembering how scary his nurse was, pointing at old places of employment, wondering who was still alive and who wasn't...
We drove around the fountain in the center of town, saw a little concert going on at the city hall building. There we saw the notorious townie person who is known to dress up at city events and dance to music. Mom was telling stories about the dancer and I told her that years ago that guy was a mental health client of mine; what a tortured young man he used to be. If the guy could be happy and dancey and dressed in a pink tutu with white tights rather than tormented as he used to be, more power to him. I'm happy for people to laugh and make fun of him if he, now considered a she in town, was no longer living in mental torture.
We passed the corner in town that used to have buildings all tight up to the four corners that, now, is open and light and not congested. I remembered having a burger at that restaurant on the corner with my dad right after having my hair cut in high school. I went from super long hair to an shoulder-length Olivia Newton-John hair cut. And wasn't that little shop cool that used to be there...
It was a truly lovely drive with Mom. After dropping her off at her house I drove around the fountain once again for good measure. As I was driving out of town Mom called me twice, once to tell me she loved me. A second time to tell me she remembered the name of the boy she used to babysit: Jonathan!
HUGS TO CONNIE!