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The long road home

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Sometimes in life, things come to a head and you can’t help but wonder if there’s any way things will ever look up. It happens to the best of us: work swarms us, friends abandon us, frustration consumes us, and we just want to quit.

I’ve come to that point, and this freefall that has become my life is starting to feel like it’s too much.

With this in mind, I did the same thing I did when I was five and wrecked my bike, when I was made fun of mercilessly in junior high and when I had my first heartbreak my freshman year of college:

I ran home, hugged my mom, and bawled my eyes out.

And it felt damn good to be home.

I come from a small, rural town in the middle of nowhere. I spent the majority of my adolescence counting the days til I could leave, and when the day finally came that I left for college, I left that town with my middle finger flying out the car window. I was one of the few in my graduating class of 69 to go to college, and I always held myself in smug superiority to the others who stayed home to farm, work in the factory, get married and have kids. I was so much better than that town, and I let everyone know it.

But there comes a point where life kicks you in the ass and you have to concede, karma’s a bitch. My perfect life, which I held over the heads of my classmates and peers who chose a different path in life, fell apart. And right after it all fell apart, I found myself driving down Route 6 til the road narrows, the line down the middle disappears, and it’s farmland for as far as the eye can see. I went home to the town I snubbed and the family I disappointed and the friends I’d ignored.

The town I had held myself above was suddenly welcoming. The air’s different, the sky’s different. It’s where I spent 18 years of my life dying to get out of, but quickly I’ve realized, home isn’t so bad. It’s comforting now. If nothing else, if all else in this world fails me, I can go home. I can sit on the tailgate of a pickup truck with my best friends from high school, in front of the Marathon station — at least until the owner comes out and yells at us for loitering, at which point we drive around the block and come back to our original spot. I can sit in Charlie’s Bar, have a few beers and play darts. I can go to my friend’s gravestone and tell him I still think he’s an asshole for flaking out on us. (It sounds rude, but you’d have to know me and him to understand the humor.)

I can sit at home with my parents watching TV with our two Shetland Sheepdogs while my kid brother (who’s now 15 and 6’2; I guess he’s not a kid anymore) rides his dirtbikes around the yard. It’s what I know, it’s what’s always there. It’s always been there, but I was too into myself and my advancement up the ladder out of that town to realize it.

I’m not an adult yet. I’m 20 years old, and I can openly admit I’m not ready to deal with the “real world.” And frankly I’m tired of trying to pretend that I am, that I have it under control. If you try too hard to convince yourself you can handle it all, it’s all going to fall down on you, and you’re going to fall on your ass.

And you can go home, hug your mom, and bawl your eyes out. And that’s okay too.

You can track Chelsea down if you follow the dirt road, or you can go to Pink Pumps and Politics or her joint blog, The Obnoxious Couple, if you’re into obnoxious people who happen to be dating.

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About Chelsea Smith