Haunted Hometowns

part of this month’s Travel Tuesday theme: Where you came from//Why you left. For some reason, I feel like this week’s theme is so much more personal than usual that I had a hard time coming up with anything at all. I also have a tendency to err on the side of depressing when it comes to being serious. For that I apologize.

The last time I was in my hometown was for Christmas holiday off work. What once used to be an amazing 2 weeks where I didn’t have to work on any homework is now just a glorified week off of work—if you can swing it. If you can bear to part with those precious gems called PTO days. I was excited, though. Excited for again, no work; but most of all, I was excited to be back on my own grounds. We’re all suckers for walking down memory lane.

Driving down the road leading to my childhood home, however, felt more eerie than comforting… and I had no idea why. Walking up the dim-lit hardwood stairs to my room felt empty, devoid of meaning as I settled in for the night.

It’s weird because I didn’t feel this way when I was home for the summer. My hometown still felt like my town, the trophy-wife factory that it was. Fit moms still peppered the streets at all times of day, the one running-obsessed girl was still running her same route at nearly the same time. My bed was still sinfully amazing to sink into and I’d sleep like a log, knowing that this was where I belonged.

This time, everything was still the same… on the surface. But I sensed that something had shifted; something had changed. My room no longer felt like mine, but like it was on loan to me; the home that I grew up in felt more unfamiliar. I was no longer used to the way my house lived and breathed.

Even meeting my high school friends felt a little weird. As high school friends go, I’d say we’re a closer knit than many. No one expects people to hang onto their high school friends… but we did. And we always tried to make it back at least once a year so that everyone can catch up.

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This time, however, I felt awkward. Assuming our same positions on whosever’s couch we’ve decided to crash on that evening. Watching some movie together while talking about any life updates. It wasn’t what we did that was awkward… it was where we did it. Under our parents’ eye, like we still had curfews.

It was then that I realized: it wasn’t that nothing has changed, it was that we did. Even though we were all in the same town, the number of times that we’d seen each other was quite low. Now, we had to choose between spending time with family or each other—a choice that we’d never had to make before because back then: we had all the time in the world to see both.

None of us were the same people anymore; none of us lived in the same town; none of us had the same aspirations. The environment had stayed the same and we tried our best squeezing ourselves back into the us-shaped holes that we had left behind but we no longer fit. What used to anchor us to our hometown—our friendships—was now no more; our relationships had proven strong regardless of location and it will continuously do so.

Despite that reassurance, it was then that for the first time that I truly felt… lonely. No matter how hard we all tried, we could never turn back time to those lazy summer nights spent lounging at one of our houses and having those late-night/early-morning heart-to-hearts. Those sleepovers that seemed to edge into cohabitation. Suddenly, my hometown turned into a ghost town—holding all these memories with no promise of more to come, making me face the realization that a certain stage of my life was over.

So I left, knowing that I wasn’t keen on experiencing those emotions again. I left and am currently leaving because there’s nothing left for me back there. There’s no future to be found there and no place for me in its lovely suburban construct. Sure, I’ll always have family there and, in a way, a connection to my childhood home; but all I feel when I return now is the echoes of old memories.

What are your thoughts on your hometown? Also if you hated this post and would never want to see anything like it again here, please tell me!


Welcome to this week’s Travel Tuesday linkup with A Compass Rose!

This week, I’m featuring Van from Snow in Tromso and her post that inspired my own: Some Thoughts on Coming Home! I love hearing about what “home” means to expats and fellow travelers because it’s always different! So go on and check out her beautiful post.

Ready to link up? Let’s get to it!

Here’s how it works:

1. Share a post about travel!  From roadtrips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations.  You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!

2.  Grab the lovely button and link back to your lovely hosts: me, Marcella, Amanda, and Caity

3. Linkup goes live! Every Tuesday at 8 am GMT.

4.  Hop around and meet new travel-loving bloggers! Link up will be open for a few days, make sure to check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!

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  • http://snowintromso.com/ Van @ Snow in Tromso

    I loved this post! And I can totally understand your emotions. Most of my high school friends still live in or near my hometown so it’s not that weird when we see each other as not much changed in their lives. But I oftentimes feel like an alien for living abroad and stuff…. I do look forward to spend the summer there though (mainly as summer there really is summer as opposed to Tromso) but I couldn’t live there again….

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha, thanks for inspiring me, Van ;)
      Yeah, I guess things are different in the summer because of the pace and the feel and everything. And yeah, definitely weirder if having lived abroad!

  • http://dianadegzz.blogspot.com/ Diana

    It feels weird going back to ‘hometown’, and meeting up with past friends, I guess it’s different if you meet with a group of friends as opposed to just one or two.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Yeah, there’s definitely a difference. It also feels weird when you visit a friend in a different city but you knew them only in a certain environment (high school). It’s kind of like two world colliding haha.

      • http://dianadegzz.blogspot.com/ Diana

        That hasn’t happened to me yet. but I think my HS gen was/is kinda close,. i’m totally the outsider. :/

        • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

          Hey, if you clicked, you clicked. If you didn’t, doesn’t matter! There are so many people out there for you to click with anyways :)

          • http://dianadegzz.blogspot.com/ Diana

            that’s true!

  • http://agirlandhertravels.com/ Polly

    I feel this 80000%. I’m back in my tiny hometown and pretty much everyone has left. It’s fun getting around just me and the Russky but it’s also incredibly sad to think of all the adventures I had in high school that will just never happen again. Is this what getting old is like?!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Polly. Yeah that must feel so weird after the adventures you’ve had in Russia! I hope this isn’t what getting old is like! I would be forever traveling to somewhere new haha.

  • http://www.twofeet-oneworld.com/ Jessi @2feet1world

    Wow intense post! But I like it :) I too felt the slight feeling of disconnection when I was back in my hometown recently… it doesn’t fit me too comfortably any more, or I don’t fit it at the moment. Hopefully again one day, but not for now.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Jessi! I didn’t know if the tone was right for my normally-chipper blog haha. It’s hard to describe, but disconnection is definitely it. Yeah, it’s all about timing—is this place right for my life right now?

  • http://www.rotten-one.com/ Tee @ Rotten One

    Hi Michelle, I really loved this post – mostly because I could relate to it so much. I’m currently back in San Francisco, my hometown, and have been feeling the way you wrote about it in this piece. Although, my mom decided to turn my old room into a guest room so maybe that’s contributed to some of my “I don’t belong here” feelings ;) Glad to read that other people feel this way too.


    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Tee! Long time no see! :) I was wondering how you were liking it back home! And too bad we didn’t connect while I was in SF. I think the feeling is there for many people… it’s just more stark when coming home after being abroad I guess? But I heard you’re headed out again for new adventures! Can’t wait :)

  • http://confuzzledom.wordpress.com/ bevchen

    Wow… this is deep. I liked it though.
    I never felt like I belonged in my “home” town, even when I lived there. I didn’t grow up there though. And the place I was born was home of the British army for many, many years. I lived there until I was 5 then again from age 7-13, but never considered it “home”. It was just where the army wanted us to be.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks Bev! Haha glad to hear that you did… it was a bit of a blog risk!
      Growing up as an army kid must’ve felt so different… as is your definition of home, I’m guessing! How are you feeling where you are now?

      • http://confuzzledom.wordpress.com/ bevchen

        I love where I am now – been here longer than I’ve stayed anywhere in my life (in one stretch), but I’m moving to Switzerland in 2 weeks!

        • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

          That’s exciting! Hoping for the best :))

  • http://www.clemandmarcella.wordpress.com/ Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld

    Really great post, Michelle! :) I know a lot of people who feel like that about home! I actually have more friends in London now than ever as lots of my uni friends moved to London after we graduated but I can relate to this in terms of my uni city. I went to live there again 3 years after graduating when all of my friends had left and it didn’t feel the same, uni days can never be replaced. I found that tough at first but then I developed a similar feeling of happy memories for the place :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Marcella :) Large cities do tend to attract old friends and acquaintances! Oh, I haven’t even visited my uni city since graduating… it would feel so weird! And I’d feel as if I’ve outgrown it somewhat. Glad to hear that it can be temporary :)

  • http://www.crumbsinthebed.com/ Kerri

    I always err on the side of depressing when I get all serious, probably because all serious things in my life have mostly been depressing… that’s depressing.

    Going home for me, feels a lot like this, I go back to where I lived before coming to Belgium, and I just don’t fall back into place there. I am always on edge, I can’t find anything and it’s just different, not at all home-like. I think only going home as little as possible doesn’t help (the summer last year was the last time), and before coming to Belgium, Kris and I were already living in our own studio for three years, it’s actually been almost 5 years since I really lived in my old home. Which isn’t really my home home, because I left my parents home at 15 and move in with other relatives, then left at 18 to go to university… so I guess I never settled in enough to make it home.

    Home is complicated…

    I did enjoy the post though, sometimes it’s nice look at things differently. Guess we can’t make jokes all the time :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      The same thing about serious things here, haha… even when I was younger, I’d only write in my journal when things were a bit rocky… which I guess is why it took a while to build up my chipper “blog voice”.

      Thanks for sharing, Kerri. I get the going home infrequently and I also feel the same when I realize my relation to family and home is a bit different than some others. I’m glad that you have Kris to share these times with though!

      And thanks for the reassurance :) came a bit out of the blue and just pushed it out there.

      • http://www.crumbsinthebed.com/ Kerri

        When I first started my blog, I was afraid to fall back into that style of writing, but for a change I was writing to get away from it, so I actually found it more fun, more therapeutic, to write about everything other than crap stuff.

        I am definitely glad I have Kris! I think I’d be a lot more lonely and probably still stuck at home. Also his family are just as strange as mine, so we are usually on the same page where family time is concerned :)

        You push that blog post out! Puuuuushhh

        • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

          Same, the style kind of haunted my Xanga and then it became almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, like you say. Writing about how awesome and cool (insert other adjective) your life is only helps in making you realize that it is actually pretty (adjective).

          Haha, thanks Kerri ;) Did I say blog post? I meant baby, so pretty good response hahaha.

  • http://www.whatupswags.blogspot.com/ Christy Swagerty

    LOL nobody should hate this post – it’s honest, and honesty always has the most raw and real writing! I’ve felt these ways before, too, and have distanced myself so far from high school days that I can laugh about it now. College, on the other hand, stays close to my heart. What helped me is that my parents have moved twice since where we lived when I was in high school, so I never have to go back to that town if I don’t want to! I know sometimes if I feel like a serious post is getting too depressing, I try to mix in a relating but uplifting quote by someone, or at least try to provide the solution to whatever is the downer in the piece. Hope that helps! :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha, thanks Christy! I thought I was old enough to distance far from high school, but I guess since those friends are still some of my closest, I’m not there yet. Yeah, a lot of people have told me that moving frequently as a kid helped break the sense of home early so that there’s not such an attachment haha.

      Haha, thanks for the tip! I usually do that but didn’t feel right doing it in this one haha :)

  • http://www.slightlyastray.com/ Anna | slightly astray

    I love this post Michelle!! (And well, I love all your reflection posts). I never grew up in one hometown (I’ve lived in like 3 different cities and 5 different apartments growing up), and even after college, my parents moved to another house, so I don’t have any special memories when I go home. To me, it’s just a place to sleep and hang out with my parents. My old things are still in boxes in the garage from the move. And I suck and didn’t keep in touch with my HS friends either. But I can still relate to not feeling like you fit there anymore. I definitely don’t. That’s completely okay! We’re meant to grow up and make our own way in this huge world!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Aww, thanks so much Anna :) You’re the best. Yeah, I can see how that helps you break that image of home early on.. but maybe it also means that your parents themselves represent home then? Thanks for your words :) I guess since I’m at quite a rocky part of deciding what to do next that I’ve been feeling a bit lost! :)

  • http://www.adventurings.com Cynthia

    Great post! I can really relate, after 10 years since I left home. Sometimes it feels great, other times just kind of eerie and lonely as you describe….. I’m from a small town and there’s always the same randos from high school hanging out at the bars like they always have been. It’s easy to get the feeling like our hometowns are forever marred by the past, buuuut I firmly believe in “making my own experience”… forging new experiences with new people to make it something from the present and not only the past. If I moved back, it would be under new circumstances with new people and hopefully would then feel new :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Cynthia! I think small towns would amplify the feeling for sure! I like the way you think—there’s no reason to make something new out of it, even though it would take a bit of time? :)

  • http://www.laurenonlocation.com laurenonlocation

    You literally just summed up the way I feel about my hometown in this post. I love going home and seeing my family and friends, but something about it just doesn’t feel .. well, right anymore. I was home for a month and a half over the summer and got used to it after a while, but it still didn’t feel the same. I, like you, have stayed in touch with high school friends, but most of mine are still around. It was weird going back and seeing all my friends who have been seeing each other all along and here I was.. almost like an outsider. Even going back to my university town for one day two summers ago felt so wrong and off. You said it best when you said that chapter of your life is over and I feel the same! And it’s not a bad thing! It simply means we’re the type of people that are able to move on and leave what we’ve done in the past behind us. It doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy it or that they aren’t cherished memories. That’s just the thing .. they’re memories! Thanks for sharing as always.

    Oh, and I hated this post and never want to see anything like it ever again … ;)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Lauren :) I felt that way with college friends more than high school friends… because they’d stayed in my college town while I traipsed around Europe. With my high school friends, we’d already gone through that first round of “everything is changing!!” haha. It was definitely jarring going back into town for graduation, haha. I really got that “outsider” feeling when I went back.
      Hah, sometimes I feel like I have difficulties letting go of the past. But I do believe in how well we bounce back and face new challenges. It just gets tiring sometimes haha.
      Thanks so much for your kind words, Lauren :)) I really appreciate it. (Ignoring the last sentence :p )

  • http://adventitiousviolet.com/ Camila @ AdventitiousViolet

    Love this post because it reminded me so much about when I went back after living abroad! Living abroad was enlightening and when I went home I realised just how much I had changed while abroad – and yes my friends and everyone else has changed. However I have to say that I come from a big city so most of my friends still live there, although most of them have now moved away from their parents’ place. But it’s always weird when I go back – it’s like they expect me to just want to go out and see them and to be honest, I love them and miss them, but I love spending time with my family, especially when I’m only home for 2 weeks. Home feel strange too though – however my relationship with my family is just even better, I feel closer to them than ever :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks so much, Camila :) Yeah, I can see how a big city would different than coming from a small town, haha. It’s funny because I think I’m completely opposite from that! I usually try to see my friends more—unless my grandparents are in town. We just don’t have enough time to do anything… see family, friends, whatever! I’m happy that the distance has improved your relationship with the family :)

  • http://www.montanitavacationrentals.com/ montanitavacationrentals

    Haunted Hometowns is one of the oldest ghost tours in the suburbs, but they don’t just lead you to spooky spots and tell you stories.. I am loving it.