I left my hometown of Albuquerque, NM 4 and a half years ago in a hurry. I had found my moment to get out and I wasn't going to allow it be be wasted. I left behind a lifetime of ghosts and I have never looked back.
When people ask if I miss home I give a standard giggle and a 'well, it's a great town to call home', but I have only visited three times in what is rounding towards 5 years away, so clearly I have found other ways to spend my time and money.
The reality is that the last two times I've been here I have hardly made any new memories, but instead was just constantly reminded of those ghosts. There's the road I pulled to the side of to have an intense and uncomfortable talk with an ex-boyfriend. There's the Starbucks I was in when I finally spoke some words to a friend that I didn't think I ever could say. There's where my friend who doesn't really talk to me anymore lives. I've never gone seeking for these corners whispering to me, they just innocently appear as I'm driving around to whatever wedding or graduation or birth I'm in town for, driving me out as fast as I left the first time.
It was really intense the first few times I was here. I would have totally forgotten some minutae of day to day life in Albuquerque, until all the sudden I was overwhelmed with emotion from the sight of a stupid street name or parking lot.
But this time, I'm a lot different. I see it in small ways like how my all time favorite drink at my old coffee shop is now way too sweet for me, or in how I actually kind of forgot how to get to my high school home. But I also see it in big ways. Like how I am enjoying the quirks of Albuquerque in a way I can honestly say I never have. I am comforted by the Sandia mountains dutifully watching over the city, instead of feeling totally blocked in and suffocated by their presence. Albuquerque hasn't changed. I have.
I am no longer afraid of being "stuck" somewhere, because I have proven to myself how I can make a plan and stick to it. How I can be flexible, but unforgivingly dedicated to my goal. I can take a deep breathe and enjoy a city for what it is, instead of hating it for what it isn't, because I know that my bed is waiting for me in a city I am so proud to call home.
It's funny though, how feeling this unexpected sense of enjoyment in my old home town actually makes me even more excited that I moved away. I'll still never look back and regret the decision I made to leave in such a hurry. I regret some of the relationships I broke along the way, and I wish I was the same person I was back then to repair them, but I just am not. It's a sad fact that I am now okay with the distance that has appeared in my old friendships, simply because that distance allowed me to dedicate myself to me, and to knowing so much more about myself.
This week has been a reminder that while this town may hold ghosts, but they're not going to haunt me any longer.