Sometimes coming home is not so triumphant.
The Old Hometown
By Nick Lachmund
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to go back there. It’s been years since I set foot on the soil of my hometown. It’s a place unlike any other to me. It’s a place filled with memories, good and bad. It’s a place where I had more ‘firsts’ than I have had anywhere else. It’s a place where I long to be but it’s also a place that scares me. What if I go back and it doesn’t feel like ‘home’ anymore? What if I return and I don’t feel a connection to the town? What if I return and all the shit memories I have of that place overwhelm me? I suppose there’s only one way to find out.
Today’s the day I go home. It’s an average day; not too warm, not too cold. The sun shines when the clouds let it and there’s no rain to talk about. Just an average day for, what I keep telling myself is an average trip. The journey feels instant as the train pulls into the station. From the window I see the familiar sight of the old train station. It’s the same station I watched disappear when I left this place, all those years ago. I step from the train to the platform and look around. I see my parents waiting for me. My mum approaches first and hugs me tightly. Instantly I feel like a toddler, consumed by her maternal embrace. Then I move on to my dad. Just seeing him makes me want to cry. I hug him awkwardly, ignoring his outstretched hand waiting for my handshake. Then, my parents take me home.
My childhood home hasn’t changed a bit. My mum still keeps a clean house that always looks freshly vacuumed and dusted. My room is even the same as when I left. It’s like my parents have kept a shrine of me since I went away. I move into every room in the house, taking it all in. I feel overwhelmed with nostalgia. It’s a feeling I seldom get, on account of me trying not to reflect on my past often. I wish Lucy was here with me. For the last two years that we’ve been dating she has asked about seeing my hometown but I have always ignored her. I feel regret now that she will never get to see where I grew up.
I explore the backyard of my family home. I remember games of cricket with friends and climbing trees that felt huge but now look small and pathetic. I see the garden shed that holds my worst memory but I don’t dare to open the door. Having the closed door on the shed makes me feel safe enough to continue exploring. I peek over the fence at the old neighbour’s house and yard. Still the same. Some things never change. I start to head back into the house but I stop short. I can’t get past the shed. I need to open the door.
I open the door quickly, trying not to think about it. It looks the same. The same tools on the ground. The same gardening supplies on the shelves. My father’s lifeless body as I found it, all those years ago. The shed dissolves around me as my fantasy evaporates and my reality returns. Lucy’s lifeless body replaces my fathers. I can’t believe that she chose to abandon me like he did. I feel the burn of the rope around my neck. I step off the chair. Today, I go home.