One ting I suppose is obvious about my life by now is I haven’t really left my childhood home. Sure I live 30 minutes away from Conway but it’s not exactly an epic distance. My parents commute between the towns. Amanda lived in Conway during the first year and a half of our relationship. Besides which, I grew up just as much in Little Rock as I did in Conway. I am very much still home.
I’m deeply content with this. Sure in time I do expect to leave, in fact I vow to, but for now I truly am home. I’m safe here after all. I know Little Rock by heart. This is everything to the aspie. After all, most of us are content to never leave home. Literally. I’ve at least done that. Besides. I’m here in no small part because it’s the only place to hire me. (1)
This has an interesting effect though. It’s impossible if you’re nostalgic not to layer the past over everything you see. Live in a town for 20 years and it becomes extremely easy. The layers of my past are dense and varied.
Tonight I had to run to Wal-Mart after work. The route started in the downtown area where I attended a play in 2002 and a few blocks from the site of the state student journalism cons. My beloved library is within sight too. 6.5 years in, the ADG has its own memories too. I keep going til I hit the interstate.
Driving down the road, I pass the university area. Park Plaza was where I mentally made peace with the move. It was where I spent time with my dad’s gf’s son. It was where I shopped constantly, especially in the pits of my depression. My magic number started there. Then it was where I got my groomsmans’ gifts. The other end has the planetarium where I was so teased in 1997, but also the campus where I attended my first HS journalism event in 1999. I visited that area with Pearcy a time or two too.
I get off on Markham and head to the Kroger. I remember when it was a Harvest Foods and had a video store. I go in but don’t find what I need. Back onto Markham were I pass the Kroger my dad frequented when he lived here. It alone in this region hasn’t changed. The layout is identical. I’ve bought booze for a party with my friend Daisy there. I was there so much with my dad. It’s an artifact.
The Wal-Mart might be new but I pass Financial Centre as I go. I was diagnosed in an office building there. Barnes and Noble, where I spent many an hour as a kid and, well, still do as an adult lies ahead. The Best Buy my dad took us to instead of the arcade is a few blocks away. The former Wynnsong 10 where I maintained my sanity in 1997 is a few blocls more. It’s an ITT now.
I get what I need in Wal-Mart and move on. I drive up past the Kroger on Shackleford into the neighborhood of Breckenridge Village. I use to go to the old BV theater, Saw Baby-Sitter’s Club, Return of the Jedi, and Lost World there. Current version I last visited last week. The hotel behind it was where I spent my last unmarried night.
I stop off at Taco Bell. I grab food and keep going. I pass the bowling alley. I was big into bowling in 97. Still am. I’ve been there recently, love it. There’s a nearby comic shop but I’m only now getting memories. The Drug Emporium I pass on this route was one of my first stops on my first solo drive into Little Rock. I graduated HS before that drive.
I get on Reservoir. I’ve driven this steep hilly road so many times. I come out on Cantrell at the start. I pass the Purple Cow which was one of the first things I remember about LR in 1994. It stood out to me. I eat there all the time now. Amazing food.
I drive past the Edwards Food Giant. Back in 1995, I remember riding through a part of the town that felt alien to me. Only as an adult have I realized this was it. We went to an obscure small bookstore that day. Said bookstore is on my route wen I walk through town now. Park Plaza isn’t much further away.
Finally, I am home. But I have always been home tonight.