Amidst the hustle and bustle of setting up for another family dinner, I decided to step outside to enjoy another abnormally warm winter day. I ended up walking through a park near our apartment. I savored the view of the blue sky and the openness of the field. What I enjoyed even more was unintentionally finding myself walking down memory lane. I thought back to the day I had spent in the park with my high school gang the day after our graduation. I imagined watching youth league baseball games on the park’s diamonds, which my brother participated in when he was in grade school. I smiled at the memory of all the runs I had around the park this summer that helped me get into better shape.
In addition to these memories, I also relished in seeing the renovations that have been done in the area over the years that I’ve been in college. I walked past the building where I had gone to Polish Language school from preschool to third grade, and where I had taken social dance lessons with a couple of cousins. I peered into the gelateria that has replaced the dance studio, and pleasantly discovered that there was a new preschool within the building. Further down on my walk, I passed the banquet hall where I had enjoyed my 8th grade dinner dance, and admired the renovations that had been done to the restaurant that my brother always orders pizza from. I later discovered that a fast food restaurant had closed down, which was probably the better option given the quality of the food. Overall, it was nice to see these successful upgrades to the businesses and buildings I have grown up with.
Other than the memories, the walk metaphorically (and literally) gave me a breath of fresh air. It takes me a while to adjust to being back in Chicago for a break, especially since my life here is much quieter and slower-paced than the one back in school in Boston. Briefly reliving some memories in my head as I walked through my neighborhood reminded me that, well, this is my home. This neighborhood is where I grew up for 18 years and have been fortunate to visit every few months for the past 4.5 years.
People have been asking me where I plan to stay after finishing up school. Originally, I had not planned on returning home. Yet the less time I spend here, the more I come to appreciate where I’ve grown up, and the more I realize how much my heart is tied to my home and is drawing me to return.