I spent Christmas visiting family and friends back in Oklahoma. It was nice to get to see everyone and cruise past some of my old haunts, but there was a moment that left me feeling a bit…off.
See, we were going to a friend of mine’s house on Christmas Eve. She lives just off a road I’ve been down dozens, hundreds, thousands of times in my life, in a town I grew up in and spent years wandering. I should have been able to find the place in my sleep. And yet, I drove right past the turn, kept driving, and only figured out I’d gone too far when I came to the next major intersection several blocks up. It threw me, not making the turn automatically, not knowing that was where the turn should be.
Now, I could easily blame it on the fact that it was night time, or that I just wasn’t paying very close attention. But the truth was, I forgot where I was going in my own hometown.
My wife pointed out that I hadn’t lived there since I was in high school, not full-time, anyway. Sure, I’d come back for breaks and during the summer in college, and I lived nearby during graduate school, but I haven’t frequented those streets with any regularity since I moved to Virginia twelve years ago. It’s natural to lose some of that mental map I’d built up over the years. But it was still a point of sadness for me, this minor misstep, because it means either (a) I’m getting dumb or (b) I’m losing a bit of the past because it’s not getting used with any real frequency.
Maybe visiting home for the holidays just left me feeling a bit nostalgic for a time that was most certainly not nearly as wonderful and pleasant as I’m remembering. But it caught me off guard and left me feeling a little sad.