"Welcome home.....Townie! lol" wrote my friend Elaine, when I told her I was moving back to Sandwich. At first I cringed a little, then laughed and realized, yeah, she's right. Once a Townie, always a Townie.
Townie. It's a moniker I never wanted when I was young. It was difficult for me in Sandwich sometimes, because so many people knew my dad, and therefore knew me by sight, so the gossip factor was immense. My parents often knew what I was up to with my friends at the Mall before I even got home, because some big mouth nosy adult from Sandwich saw me and couldn't wait to call my parents to rat me out. Talk about feeling trapped.
It was one of the reasons I wanted so much to break away. The thought of staying in that small town, trying to eke out a living on the east coast was, I admit, somewhat repugnant to me at that time. I wanted nothing more than to be on the west coast, where there were more things to do and see. Where it seemed like things were always "happenin'" and exciting. When it was 7:00 p.m. on a Sunday at my house and I had to go to school the next day, it was still only 4:00 p.m. on the west coast. I would be kneeling on the couch, looking out the western facing livingroom window at the fading light, and squirm inside with impatience to be out west and frustration at being 'stuck' on Cape Cod. Every time a football game was on and the announcer would say, 'Stay tuned for 60 Minutes immediately following the game, except on the west coast," a voice in my head would yell, "I WANNA BE ON THE WEST COAST!" I still get a charge out of hearing that during a football game and I've been out here for 22 years. My standard and audible response is, "That's right you East Coast suckas! It's only four PM here!!! HA HA!"
I've mentioned here, on more than one occasion, that the older I got, the more alienated I got from my town and life there. I always thought there was more out there and it would kill me to miss out. I now see that my attitude was borne from the crushing loneliness I felt for so many years and my pitifully non-existent self esteem. Over the course of time and because I was really, really into British music, I turned my interest to possibly living and working in London. I wasn't quite sure how to go about effectuating that move, but it was my high school dream of my '5 year plan' following college. After visiting, and falling in love, with San Francisco in 1986, I ditched the London idea because I had to move to SF. I finally felt like I'd found a place where I could fit in. At that time, I didn't know where any of my high school classmates had ended up and I had no idea how to find or get ahold of anyone. There was no Internet. No Facebook. Most of them were busy having & raising their children and moving around themselves. Many stayed in Sandwich, some moved away for a few years but returned and settled there. The pull of the Cape can be very great. But I never felt it then. Or even when I visited over the last 2 decades. I would be so homesick for the west coast and count the days, hours and minutes till I was headed west again. I assumed I would eventually sell my mom's house and property and never look back. I figured there was nothing for me there anymore. So I left.
The older I've gotten, the more I've tried to analyze why I felt the way I did. I eventually decided that, because so many of my classmates and friends come from what I call 'Ye Olde Towne Families', their roots run hundreds of years deep in that area, so it was harder for them to leave their ancestral home. My parents arrived in Sandwich in 1953. My family didn't even arrive in America till 1911. I figured that was why it was so easy for me to walk away, turn my back on my past even though it was, for the most part, an idyllic small town childhood.
Over the years, I have gone back to visit the Cape on quite a few occasions, and no matter what, I always, without fail, run into someone I know. Sometimes a friend of my parents', sometimes a classmate of mine. When I was back east for 10 days for my dad's funeral in June of 2003, Sharon & Diane kept asking me if I knew everyone in town. They lived in Barnstable for over 10 years and went to high school there, and they said they never ever run into anyone they know, and they are ALWAYS on the Cape. I show up for the first time in years and end up seeing people everywhere I go. Because over and above seeing people at the funeral, no matter where I was a few days afterward, be it out for dinner with them, at CVS or Stop & Shop, or at the ice cream place, I ran into someone I knew.
Flash forward to 2011, and all of a sudden I find myself staring down the barrel at 50 and wonder where the last 25 or so years went. The older I get, the more I find myself craving a connection with my past, because it's rapidly disappearing into the distance. I really like it that I know so many people who have the same memories as I do. Memories of mini-golf and then ice cream at Frannie & George's. Learning to skate on Shawme Pond and on cranberry bogs in winter and July 4th fireworks at Shawme Pond in summer. Elementary school field trips to the Hoxie House where you had to find a partner and hold hands the whole walk there and back. I have gotten back in touch with so many old friends, and made new ones, and I see now that I wasn't as disliked as I perceived myself to be. I had such a great time visiting people when I was in Sandwich last month. There wasn't enough time to see everyone I wanted to see!
I spent most of my time with Russell, whose family goes back generations. He is related to so many people that I will never be able to keep his family tree straight. A good portion of our classmates are his cousins. I also got to spend some time with my friend Marsha. While we were getting coffee, another old friend from our graduating class, Terrance, came in to get coffee and that was a nice surprise to see him. After Terry left, Marsha's keen eye spotted Gene & his cousin Sharon walking by on the street! We rushed outside to say hi. My parents are Gene's godparents, and I have known his and Sharon's families from birth. And Sharon is Elaine's sister...the one who I mentioned in the first paragraph, above. I saw Gene in Tacoma back in October of 2009. He's always been one of my favourite people.
An adorable pic of Gene, Marsha & Sharon, three of my fave people!!
I also got together with my friend Nancy at her house for a couple of hours and it was a blast to see her. The conversations just flowed so easily, as if I had never left. I also stopped into my friend Michelle's Sandwich Village Herb Shop on Rte. 6A in Sandwich to say hello and check out her wares. I know where I'll be shopping for all my Wiccan/Pagan needs once I move back!
Against my better judgment I am posting these pics of me with my friend Traci's daughter Zoe. The 3 of us went out to lunch one day too. Traci's family left Sandwich and lived in Florida somewhat miserably before deciding to return, en masse, to Cape Cod. They live in East Dennis now, just down Rte. 6A about 15 or so miles from my mom's. I've known Traci since the first grade.
And also of me and Traci.
Next time the sun goes down on Cape Cod, I won't be so eager to leave and follow it to the western edge of the country.
I am, and apparently always will be, a Townie, and I've made my peace with it. I'm in love with a Townie, all my friends are Townies and that's OK with me now. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.