For those who purposely moved far away from their hometown long ago, you may understand the subject of today’s entry. I grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY, and ever since my mother passed in 2005, I have only returned once, for a high school reunion in 2010, that is until I decided a few months ago that I wanted to share some of my childhood roots with my partner Chris. While I do have a Grateful Heart Monday entry coming up about this travel experience, I decided I wanted to share a little about the difficulty of me returning to the place where I grew up.
The main reason why I haven’t been back to Poughkeepsie in so long is simply for the fact that it holds so many difficult memories. My father’s heavy bouts of depression that eventually led to his suicide, my mother’s descent into alcoholism that ultimately led to her tragic fall down the stairs, being bullied throughout my grammar school years, getting molested by a coach on one of my swim teams, each happened in the small confines of a town that I spent 18 years of my life in. Also, given that I don’t have any family or close friends left in my hometown, I’m sure you can understand why my visits to Poughkeepsie have been pretty much nonexistent over the past decade and a half. Even so, I truly felt it was important to share some of my childhood roots with Chris, especially in light of how long we’ve been together now and the fact that we’re planning on actually getting married soon.
Nevertheless, I arrived late at night in my hometown the day before Independence Day with some excitement and apprehension being felt at the same time. Excitement for seeing Chris’s reactions to all the things I grew up with and apprehension for all those difficult memories that immediately began flooding in as well.
Probably the most difficult thing I experienced during this trip was driving into my old neighborhood and seeing the home I grew up in again. My last time in that home was in dealing with my mother’s passing, which included cleaning the blood up from the bottom of the stairs after she died. The sadness I felt there as I showed the house to Chris was quite deep. But, maybe just as challenging to see again were all the old-fashioned diners and this one dessert café my father and I used to frequent. I have many fond memories of our times together at each of them.
In the end, I realized just how much I still miss my parents. I know it’s been almost 15 years since my mother passed and about 23 years since my father died, and even though I’ve processed through all of the grief from their deaths long ago, I found myself missing them more than not for the majority of my time there. And well, I guess I should mention as well the one other reason why I found it so difficult being home and it deals with how I dealt with all the family drama growing up.
During my younger years, before I ever succumbed to addictions, I found a great escape in engaging in a lot of physical sporting activities. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do any of them in a very long time due to health issues. Being back home and seeing all the basketball and tennis courts I used to play on, and the many mountain ranges I used to hike around, was rather saddening. In all honesty, it’s these activities I miss the most in life, as they often brought me closer to feeling the presence of my Higher Power.
Regardless, although we chose to depart Poughkeepsie a day early, I’m still thankful I was able to share my hometown with Chris, as he now can picture all the things I’ve talked about from my childhood since the day we met. Whether I ever return there in the future or not remains to be seen, but at least for now, I’ve most definitely had my fill of reliving childhood memories that’s for sure…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson
PS – My sincerest apologies to any of those I’m friends with on Facebook who still live in the Poughkeepsie area for my not reaching out during the few days I visited. Chris asked that it be only us connecting on this trip and I wanted to honor that! 🙂