I’m not going to lie, going home isn’t number one on my priority list. It has nothing to do with my family, they’re fantastic, they just happen to live in a misfortunate part of the world.
Let me backtrack. I grew up in a great, little town (was that an oxymoron?) ideal for a child to grow up in. Oh, Camp Hill, PA, we had some good times. To be honest, I can’t think of a more picturesque location in all of the United States to have had an all American experience and upbringing. Picket fences, no real housing developments, trees, parks, and all within walking distance. Indeed, we never even took school buses to school.
But growing up in a small town in which you share the same classroom seats from ages 5 to 18 with the exact same 63 students in the exact same background has its drawbacks. For the most part, I harbor no ill feelings to my CHHS class of ’03, nor to the town that offered me a great education and upbringing, it’s just that, oh my freaking god, it’s so boring.
Growing in up in Camp Hill, all we wanted was to get to senior year and graduation day to escape into the big wide world. Some of us managed to do so by jetting across the US to different schools, or venturing to universities across the state. Some joined the military and workforce. Many of us found out that the world is a bit too big outside of Camp Hill and remained. Nothing wrong with this either. Everyone finds their path, and even those who venture outside the boundaries of our borough, eventually return to their roots. This is common, because when you are ready for a family, suburbia awaits in a house with a yard in Camp Hill and a fantastic school district.
I know I sound pretentious to say I hate going home for longer than 24 hours. Again, love my parental units, love the people, but I have itchy feet and need stimulation. I’ve travelled a lot, and have been really fortunate to see so much of the world. I live in DC and couldn’t be happier with my weekly poker games with Obama (horrible bluffer). I like the energy of change, of cities, and of diversity. Camp Hill is an antonym for these words; this is also why so many people find comfort and happiness there.
I went home for Christmas this year and it’s true, there is no place like home for the holidays. It doesn’t feel like Christmas anywhere else even if I spent December 1st to the 25th at the North Pole, it’s just not the same. Even when I lived abroad, I made it to Camp Hill for December 25th.
Sometimes at home I see old friends, and sometimes I avoid old friends. I make it to the Capitol City Mall where I used to work, cherish tax-free shopping on clothes, and marvel at how the more things change the more they stay the same.
Returning home is like a time warp. Suddenly I’m 16 again, running into my field hockey coach’s car, getting in trouble for talking in Latin class, skipping gym, and concerned I don’t have enough sparkles for my hair when cheerleading at a football game. If I had known that these were simpler times, I may have appreciated them more. But every time I go home, I feel I’ve stepped back, and maybe that’s why I struggle with going home as I’m faced with recognizing the simpler times.
I didn’t last at home, already I’m back in DC. Spending New Year’s watching the strawberry drop in Harrisburg, the wrench drop in Mechanicsburg, the pickle drop in Dillsburg, or dropping a white rose in Lancaster, it just doesn’t feel good, maybe even a little sad. Why must we drop so many things?
I’m proud of where I grew up, and I feel lucky to have had such a unique, but typical, upbringing. I honestly have no intention of returning to central PA to have a life, it’s not for me. However, I do know, despite my talk, there’s no place like my home for the holidays and even if I feel I’ve outgrown the little town, it’s still my home and always will be.