I remember the humid days, the long hours outside, riding my bicycle, swimming with friends. The time indoors only spent drinking liquids to replenish all the water that had been lost in our sweat. Running into the house, flinging the door open, with friends trailing behind as if they were born from the same mother as I had been.
I remember the nights spent running around the backyard with our dogs, chasing them, always believing I would catch up, yet never being quite fast enough. The joy of laying in the grass, the joviality of cartwheels until I fell over from dizziness. The freedom felt by looking out at the trees, the stars, the surrounding neighbors. The feeling that I was home.
I remember growing old, growing older, that suddenly I was a driver and could go anywhere in the world. I remember trips and memories of teenage bliss, where going to the movie theater on a summer evening without an adult was the greatest privilege. That I found myself at pool parties and graduation parties of older peers, in charge of myself, in charge of summer.
I remember the fourth of July, spent watching neighbors’ fireworks from our backyard. We did not need to leave home to find beauty and light, it was already ours. Grilling meats, eating chips, some years with the sound of voices buzzing through the halls. Some years, only Mom and Delaney and me. The smell of the burnt explosives, the smoke wafting into the air to be joined with the clouds.
I remember summer after summer of lightheartedness, of hot sunshine, of Cheerwine. The freedom to be young and eat however we wanted, without worrying about fashion or our figures. The countless “roadtrips” to Chick-Fil-A to drink sweet tea and eat waffle fries, time spent with mentors, hours spent laughing and telling stories and playing games.
And as I listen to Natalie Tyer’s (an old Virginia pal) tune “Someday I’ll Come Back Home,” I can’t help but become glossy-eyed. Virginia, I am missing you today especially. I am missing your heavy air, your big trees, and the memories I built in you. Don’t you change, but even if you must, I will always recognize you.
“This one’s for you, and the roots you helped me grow.
I’ll sing this for you, and it’ll help me to let go.
The horizon is greeting me slow, but someday I’ll come back home.”