I'm still in Arkansas visiting family and checking out all the old hangouts. So much has changed, but nothing really has.
I went to my Alma Mater (UCA) and as I strolled beneath the enormous oaks seeking any shade I could find, I almost felt like I was back in grad school... that is, until my middle daughter started grumbling about the heat and "When are we going to leeeavvve???"
I went by Pizza Inn on Oak Street, where I worked for almost 2 years and, in fact, where I met my husband, Clay.
But my former boss Rusty is no longer there (he's at Church's Chicken right down the road!) and the pizza just doesn't taste the same. Checking my blood-sugar and giving myself a shot before I indulge kind of ruins the ambiance, too.
Went by and saw Rusty so he could meet my daughters... he looks great, but the thought intrusively occurred to me that Nadia's not so much younger now than I was when I first went to work. Suddenly, I feel so old!
Spent a day with my high school boyfriend and his wife (how weird is that!) and found that she and I could be best friends if we lived closer. Such a great, Christian couple; I feel blessed to know them!
And as I drove past my old high school, the old neighborhood, and all the places I once called, "home," I realized that it wasn't so much the town that had changed, but rather, I was the one who had changed.
I may resemble the girl I once was; I may even gravitate toward the same locales.
But that girl is no longer.
Inside, I'm not even remotely the same.
The first time I stepped into a strip club,
The first time I held the hand of a homeless mother or prayed with a woman at wit's end,
Every time I hand out a bag of groceries or help a young mother "shop" for clothing at the Dream Center...
All these things have changed me from the inside, out.
Maybe my old friends and family can't see it, but I know it's there and no matter how often I visit, this will never be HOME again.