2023-09-16: i can't go home

a couple weeks ago i got an invitation on facebook: a former classmate had died a few weeks prior. i felt for his family. i wouldn't miss him personally, and you ca't say it on the memorial page, but all i remember was how much of an asshole he was to me at a really vulnerable part of my life. with the understanding that people grow, change, improve: maybe he did. i hope that he did.

at the end of grade twelve, i was a little sad because i knew i wouldn't get to see my friends in the same way again. different schools, different programs, with the associated cluster of classes, assignments, exams. but i was also elated because i wasn't going to have to see most of my classmates again. and that's held true. apart from friends i've wanted to keep up with, the number of people i knew in high school that i've seen since has been vanishingly small.

maybe in another life i stayed, maybe one in which my teenage years were happier. but when i got that invitation, i just looked at it sadly. for years i just wanted the shaming to stop. reverberations of it for years afterward. and then at the cusp of eighteen i saw my life stretching in front of me, a life in which i could actually be myself, a life in which i was not tied to, and shamed for, the bad decisions i made at the cusp of adolescence. it hasn't worked out quite the way i expected, but one part has held: i made a life elsewhere, and stayed there.

i've gone back in the past, in a limited capacity. visited family when they were there; saw my closest friends. but each time i drove in from the south, and saw the city limits expanding, i experienced the understanding this was no longer my home. eight years now since my family left. almost a decade since i last came in, and no plans to go back again.