So I started at the Federal Way FM a couple weeks ago, back in my "old stomping grounds," whatever that means. Apparently the correct phrase is "old stamping grounds" but that doesn't make any more sense.
Despite its familiarity, I don't feel much of a connection to this place. I haven't lived in this area (or really even visited it) for about ten years, so I should feel like a 28-year-old coming back home for his high school reunion, right? I feel so much more at home walking around downtown in Seattle even though I've never lived there... it just feels like home. Federal Way feels familiar in the most awkward way. Perhaps it's because I spent so much of the time I lived here wanting to be just about anywhere else, to get away from everything and everyone but my closest friends.
I skipped my real ten year reunion for a reason. Now I'm reunited with my old town where all the roads and buildings are the same but the faces are mostly different (I do work with a guy I knew from junior high... ha!).
Marlene's is still awesome, I've gone there for lunch a few times. Amazingly, Al's Music (the used record store) still exists. I went there yesterday and saw a few CDs that I'm relatively certain were the same ones I traded in years ago. I haven't gone in the mall yet but I'm sure it's the same as it ever was. I haven't driven by TJ yet but I'm sure if I did it would still give me the same sense of nausea and suffocating fear that it always has. I'm a 33-year-old man and the thought of high school still manages to turn me into a frightened, miserable, lovesick little teenager.
I made so many wonderful memories in this place. It's the city where I met my dearest friends that I still have to this day. It's where I started playing in the band that literally (yes, literally) kept me sane throughout high school and gave me something to live for during a time when I felt like I didn't have anything else. It's the home of the 320th Denny's where I laughed with my friends harder than I've ever laughed in my life. I'm realizing now that when I left I took all of that good stuff with me. There's nothing left here in Federal Way for me besides a cool music store and a whole lot of bitterness.
And my new job, of course, to which I must now return.