Alice in Wonderland features a young girl, Alice, who fell down a magical rabbit hole and must navigate its oddities to find her way home. It was one of my favorites growing up. I loved the wonder and the absurdity of it all; the vivid colors jumped off of the page, and I dreamed of falling into a rabbit hole of my own and discovering a world below my feet that I didn’t know existed.
This past week, I took a trip to Homer, Alaska, the small fishing town where I grew up. I could remember running down the pothole-filled dirt road to the mailbox and riding my bike around the neighborhood to the lake, feeling that it was practically endless. Three years later, upon my return, I was the Alice who had fallen into my own wonderland. It wasn’t the same kind of magic that I expected, though. I had eaten the side of the mushroom that made the world shrink around me, and the time when this street felt like home seemed a lifetime ago.
The trip to my old street was the first thing I did upon arrival, and it marked the tone for the whole trip. There was a sense of jubilation and excitement, as I was there to see my best friend from childhood graduate as valedictorian of what would have been our class. It was wonderful to see so many faces I’d known since preschool, but it was similarly surreal. This was almost my life. It’s not too often that we get a window into a path not taken. I met up with some of them, visiting our favorite hang-out spots, cafes, and restaurants. Throughout all of the laughter, though, there was always this slight tinge at the edge of my mind that made me remember that I was a visitor now.
I used to believe that home was something concrete and solid. A place, once home, would always stay that way, no matter the distance. I don’t yet know if that will prove to be true. Is home a feeling or a place? Maybe home is a permanent state, but our relationship to it is ever evolving. I loved the childhood that growing up in Homer afforded me. Being so near the most incredible beach in the world for my playground is an irreplaceable experience. There’s a discomfort in realizing that the price of growing and changing is losing some feelings that we used to be able to readily access. Home has changed, but so have I.
One last thought, before I go.
The theme of this post, and my week, has been nostalgia. This album is one of my favorites. It’s an exploration of descent into dementia, but the A and B tracks embody the sense of ephemeral beauty of memory and times gone by. It’s a lovely reflection, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.