I’ve known my family was moving for about six months, but up until two days ago, I have been pretty cavalier about the whole thing. Since I’ve already been gone for two years, I didn’t see myself missing Hillsboroites any more than I already had been—nothing so intense that a quick Skype video chat couldn’t fix!
I didn’t think this move would actually bring about any additional change for me. Sure, going home for Christmas break would be different. I’ll crash on the couch in a two-bedroom apartment instead of in my perfect bed in my giant Hillsboro room. But, again, that didn’t seem too bad and I didn’t think much of it.
A simple Sunday trip to Parkview Church completely changed my mind.
When I tell my Chicago friends stories from home, they’re usually about people I went to school with, people my age. The ones I tend to miss the most are people I spent the most time with, not necessarily folks from church who may have had a large impact on my life.
I hadn’t realized how many 20-something, 30-something, 40-something, 50-something, 60-something, 70-something people I knew and really, truly cared about.
I only saw these people once or twice each week and usually only for a few minutes, but they have been permanently woven into the fabric of my Hillsboro life. Since I haven’t yet found a home church in Chicago, I’m not regularly present in the lives of people older than me. Until I re-introduced myself to that atmosphere, I didn’t realize how much I had been missing their influence.
Later on Sunday, I tried driving to the store to pick up some coffee creamer and ice cream. I had completely forgotten that almost everything here closes by 6 p.m. (One thing I will definitely not miss!) With time to kill, I started to drive around town, windows down, favorite music playing. Cue the nostalgia.
I had already been faced with the reality of how many people I will miss…this was when I realized how many places I will miss.
When I lived in Hillsboro, I would always complain about how small and boring the town was, how there was never anything to do, blah blah blah. But as I drove past buildings, fields, houses and streets that had been major, everyday parts of my life, I realized….
This is where I grew up. This is where most of my childhood memories are. And I’m leaving this place for good. Sure, I “left home” two years ago for college, but now, we’re really leaving. And as much as I’ve dismissed the idea of an actual place being “home” (I believe that “home” is wherever I’m with my loved ones), I think this place might have become my “home.”
I will tell my someday-children stories about elementary school—like the time I held my breath way too long at recess and passed out into the brick wall, busting open my lip and painting the wall with blood. (I still have a gnarly scar). That happened in Hillsboro.
When my someday-daughter is getting ready for her first prom, I might tell her that my best friend Becky did my hair every year I went, and that my senior year, my date was still too young to drive so he got out from the passenger’s side to open my driver’s-side door. That was in Hillsboro.
When I’m sitting on a rooftop in Chicago (one of my favorite pastimes), looking at the flashing airplane lights, admiring the skyline, and listening to sirens overpower the sound of the wind, I’ll remember nights in Hillsboro. We would lay on the football field, sit on the hood of a car, swing on swings out in the country, walk along forgotten dirt roads…. Those are all Hillsboro memories that can’t be re-created anywhere else.
I guess it’s true—you never know what you have until it’s gone.
I mentioned in my last column that Chicago, despite it’s overwhelmingly large population, can be lonely. Everyone seems to be doing their own things, in their own little worlds, concerned only about what directly affects them.
When someone catches me staring at them for an uncomfortably long time on the train (a bad habit I have always had), they give me the stink eye and move seats.
During my nostalgic drive around Hillsboro, I was lost in thought, accidentally staring at a guy mowing his lawn. When he looked up the first time, he nodded in acknowledgment of our mutual existence. Twenty seconds later, when he looked up again and realized I was STILL STARING, he took off his headphones, smiled, and waved. It almost made me cry!
I know that might sound silly, but these are the little things that seem unique to Hillsboro.
It’s also strange to think that life here will go on without the Humber family. That sounds selfish and I promise that’s not how I mean it. I just mean that so much has changed since I was home in March, and I don’t know when I’ll be back again.
What new buildings will be erected? What will be torn down? Which roads will be paved? What new families will live here? I will come back to visit, but visiting won’t feel like coming home.