“He shall know your ways as if born to them.”
– Liet-Kynes from Dune
My old hometown, where we now live, has tripled in size since I graduated high school. But I know the area like the back of my hand and cannot get lost here.
We’ve been driving around the town, just for the heck of it, in the evenings. I point out to Katie all the different memories and features: that’s where I use to play soccer; here’s the house where I grew up; this is the neighborhood where all the rich kids lived.
In a big city, this sense of nostalgia is lessened. I have lots of memories in, say, Austin, but we don’t go driving around it just for fun. The city’s too big and impersonal. But a small(er) town is different; it has a distinct character all its own.
The high school turned into a junior high turned into a middle school (which is when I went there), and is now an elementary and a historic landmark. The other schools, once with bland names like Westside, Northside, and Eastside, are now all named after local men and women who distinguished themselves through lifetimes of service, including my old principal.
The town now has two high schools, so for the first time an intra-village rivalry will develop. Too bad in a way, as everyone going to one high school meant you knew everyone and likely went to school with them for at least six years.
We are looking for land relatively close to the San Gabriel river. Growing up as an atheist, I never thought twice about what (or rather whom) “San Gabriel” referred to: St. Gabriel the Archangel of course! How awesome that we are going to be close by it, God willing, and close to the Dominicans who plan to build a priory here that will one day house one hundred nuns.
Two days ago we took a walk around the block and a man remodeling his house introduced himself to me. I did a double-take when he said his name, then looked hard at him. Yep, it was Will, the guy in my sister’s grade who I played soccer with for years. He doesn’t have any hair anymore, but other than that he looks the same. Hadn’t seen him in 16 years but we instantly reconnected and went inside his house to see what he was doing on it.
One thing we’ve lost as Americans who frequently make geographic moves is that sense of home. That knowledge that our family for generations has lived in an area and has its roots anchored deep in the soil. We hope to begin establishing that with our family, right here and now. Whether it happens or not, we leave in God’s hands, but we desire it, because it is something very good and beautiful.
“I’m even okay with the hoodlums on the hill…they’re in my will, like her and you…”