I'm sitting on the front porch of the house I grew up in. With the cat and a little wind and a few thousand birds all making the kind of noise that could be considered "noise" but which also could be considered "silence". It's both somehow. Both in kind of the same way a waterfall is. How does nature do that? Be so loud and so quiet at the exact same time? Some people have voices like that too. I wish I did.
It's funny, coming home. Some of the things are exactly the same as they were when I lived here ten years ago. Some of the things are even the same as they were when I was just a little kid. The path made of railroad ties that winds around the house, for example: I can't remember when that wasn't there. And the expansive bright green lawn that was always so perfect for baseball and frozen tag and straight up free-running. The little red shed with the peeling paint and loose shingles where my cat always used to have and hide her kittens.
And then there are new things, like this porch I'm sitting on. Things that were built and added after I left home, things inside and outside. I feel weird about them. I feel like anything that came after me almost needs my permission to be here. Like when I saw that there were two new chairs in the living room, I wasn't sure if that was okay. They're fine chairs and everything, but they're kind of like a couple of strangers sitting there. Who let them in? It wasn't me.
And then there are things that have always been here, but which have grown up and changed considerably. Like the trees - and like the neighbor's kids. I used to babysit their daughter when she was tiny, and now she's almost sixteen. I saw her yesterday and it was one of those really strange moments. I wanted to scoop her up and run out of there screaming, "Stop! Stop it right now! If you grow up, I will too!"
But it seems like it might be too late. She's not a little kid anymore. She's this beautiful young woman who stands still when she talks to me and smiles calmly and says, "I'm getting my driver's license in August."
I can feel my skin wrinkling.
Anyway. The breeze is cooling off and there's a spider, so I might go inside, or walk around a bit. Ah, nostalgia and strangeness and dread. The right combination of emotions for childhood front porches.