Among my smaller summer goals, I’ve decided to introduce my fiancé to some important pieces of my past.
First on the agenda, of course, is Harry Potter. At just two years older than me, I’m still not sure how he escaped the sweeping mania of the series that exploded between 2001 and 2004… especially hanging out at the internets so much. That was sort of the epicenter of the explosion. At his insistence that he doesn’t have time to read so much (which is true), I wasn’t fazed. The one thing we’re guaranteed to do a lot of this summer is driving. So I put all seven audiobooks on my iPod. One evening’s trip to Kansas City got us a few chapters into “Sorcerer’s Stone”. Several trips later, we’re one chapter away from finishing “Chamber of Secrets.”
All the driving is closely tied to the second introduction: Terre Haute, Indiana. This college town off of I-70 boasts a gorgeous courthouse, Larry Bird, Clabber Girl, the first 10 years of my own life, and all of my family history since the mid-1800s. We’ll hang out with my grandparents, explore the kitchy wonder of my great-aunt’s garden, probably get Square Donuts every morning, and oh… all the cousins!
It’s hard to decide what to show him in the two days we’ll be there. Bringing someone to your family involves a weird kind of vulnerability. It’s different than just telling a story, or even flipping through pictures. There is no way to predict or control that interaction. Being with my family is almost guaranteed to be fun, but so much of me wants to recreate the experiences I had when I lived in Terre Haute:
walks in Roselawn Cemetery, swimming at the Shrine Pool, summer nights at Green Acres Dairy Bar when we still fit on all the playground things, endless days in the River Bottoms.
I guess my family are extremely sentimental people. Despite being sixteen years from last residing in Terre Haute, we hold these memories & those people strongly and talk about them often. But it has changed now. We have changed so much.
Some of the places & people aren’t there anymore. Some of the homes aren’t ours anymore. And the cousins I most loved playing with now have kids who have caught up to the age of my favorite memories. But in a really cool way, it’s almost better to see the things now, with everything about me that has changed, too. It’s to show him, “Look, this is who I am… this is who we are.” Still visiting each other, still making memories.
Seeing my fiancé (unique to my Kansas life) walking around these places in Indiana, will be the strangest possible juxtaposition. I may not get through the visit without thinking, “You don’t belong here,” but I have to remember that I don’t really, either. I can’t press play on the past. We’re going to Terre Haute, not 1995.
That is the fun thing about sharing a book as opposed to sharing a place: books don’t change. Even if I can’t recreate the experience of a childhood home, I can take him to Hogwarts. (I just can’t take him there as an 8th grader. But that’s probably better: Harry got me detention a few times.)
I’m not exactly who I was when I wandered the River Bottoms alone or climbed sticky trees with my cousins, or even when I first cracked open a paperback copy of “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone”. But I am a person who holds onto things (the good things), and persists in love. At least, that’s what I hope he sees.
The most normal picture of us ever taken:
Most of them are more like this: