Postcard from the road

December 27,2010
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

It's always strange to go back to the little college town where I grew up. It's even stranger that I went to college in the same college town. When I walk to the little shopping center near my parents' house I feel like time slips away--off to the side like a sheet suddenly whipped away to reveal something hidden, and I have to consciously remind myself--my god, I'm 41, not 18, or 22 or even 30. The college students around me look just like the my contemporaries from twenty-two years ago--they haven't changed one bit, I don't think. They might be carrying around smart phones and listening to iPods, but on the outside they look like people I once knew, a long time ago. 

On the afternoon before Christmas Eve I walked the circuit from my parents' house, to CVS, in to buy some lotion, out again, back down the street, then around the block past the house where I met Scott almost fifteen years ago to the day. I stood in front and thought about what a balmy, unseasonable December day that had been and we'd sat out on the porch swing that's still there, rocking and talking the night away. 

It's a ritual of mine, sometimes, to walk that circuit--my way of reaching out and touching the past, reminding myself, maybe the way some people like to go back and re-read parts of a story as they go along, gathering up the threads of the tale, even as the whole picture is still forming in their minds.

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I hope you had a peaceful, beautiful Christmas. There's always so much build-up to the holiday, and then it's always over so quickly, it's hard to even believe it happened. When I tucked the kids into bed on Saturday night it seemed only hours before that I had tucked T. in on the night before Christmas, and listened to her telling me "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" from memory, and watched a little of the Santa Tracker on NORAD with L., as I do every year, and spent the night tossing and turning, as I also do every year.

I'll be back on Wednesday with another post. Until then, wish us luck as we make our way back home again, through all the Christmas weekend East-coast snow!

 

L. used to always write the letter to Santa on Christmas Eve. This year he declined the job and T. gladly took it up for him.