A few weekends ago, Brandon and I made the 5-hour trek back to our hometown of Cape Hatteras, NC as I had some business to tend to and Brandon was, for the most part, tagging along. Just to recap our introductory post: Brandon and I grew up on the same small island, just minutes apart, yet a world of difference existed between our lives…
My parents were gracious and kind enough to let us crash at their guest house dubbed ‘The Carolina Inn’ (Tar Heel Blood runs deep) for the weekend. It was the perfect spot for Brandon and I to have a chill weekend and unwind after a busy week. My parents house, which I grew up in, is right next door and it sits on about 8 acres of property that contains so many precious and vital memories of mine.
To many people, ‘going home’ represents a certain word that reflects their emotion about the occasion. ‘Nostalgia’, ‘Beauty’, ‘Familiarity’, and ‘Comfort’ are all words that come to mind when I think of going home. But for everyone, including myself from time to time, the words aren’t always wholesome and good. ‘Isolating’, ‘Limited’, ‘Intrusive’, and ‘Resistant’ are all words that have described emotions I’ve felt in my hometown. These words are less happy and shiny, therefore less likely to be expressed, but that doesn’t mean that both sets of these words aren’t equally important.
As always on this blog I cannot speak for Brandon. I can only take from what we have discussed between the two of us and summarize it here. This weekend at home brought forth many complex and mixed emotions for both of us, but I could certainly tell there was a lot on Brandon’s mind. One night while we were relaxing at ‘The Carolina Inn,’ Brandon began to open up to me about the emotions he feels when he is back in Cape Hatteras. As I sat and heard him recall what it was like to be a child with a disability, confined to his wheelchair and home quite often with no sidewalks or access to really anything, I actually saw him ‘go there’ in his mind. It was a very profound and tear-shedding experience for the both of us.
Like I said, I have mostly fond memories and feelings about returning home. When I walk around my old house’s property I see the field where I learned to hit a baseball, I see the trees that my friends and I hid in during airsoft battles, I see the skate ramp where I got my first scrapes and bruises and I see, in the distance, the water where I learned to surf, fish, kiteboard and much more. Brandon definitely has good memories of home. But, also when he returns home he sees the room where he spent most of his time reading books and dreaming of what is ‘out there,’ the lack of accessible entertainment…and the school where he could learn, grow and interact with friends.
As I sit now and think about it, it makes perfect sense. Now I understand why Brandon has such a passion for the education system, University life, etc. That was his outlet growing up. That was his one-way ticket to a life of freedom, access and connections that could not be found on a barrier island. For me, school was a drag. I thought it was just this ‘thing’ in life that you had to do in order to continue doing the fun stuff I so loved. I was one of those ‘naturally smart’ people who hardly had to lift a finger to get through school and college with nearly perfect grades, yet now I feel the repercussions of this.
No matter how you slice it, we are all direct products of the way we grew up; good, bad or otherwise. Now, Brandon is overseeing a highly successful computer programming school in downtown Raleigh and is managing teachers, students, and administrators on the daily. It is amazing to see how confidently he interacts with everyone and what great skills he provides to a business. I, on the other hand, am coming to grips with my lax ways and exploring how I can use my ‘naturally smart’ and creative side to propel me into a career that fulfills me. In the coming months, I will be entering coding school and will be striving to learn the in’s and out’s of building everything from websites, to mobile apps, to software and combine this knowledge with creativity to build something profound.
In a nutshell, going home isn’t always sunshine and butterflies and beautiful dolphins jumping from the ocean (though, most times it is). But it is always important. It reminds you of how you were built. It is a gentle tap on the shoulder from the ghost of your past that says, “Hey, this was you. Take this and become who you are meant to be”. It’s a community that doesn’t forget your name, no matter how much you’d cursed it before. It’s a minefield of memories and emotions that, if you don’t tread carefully, may blow you to smithereens. Take pride in where you are from, because it gave you everything that you are today and each time you return, it will be there to hold up a picture of yourself from the past to show you how much you have grown.
Roll With Us,