I was in Delaware this weekend for my cousin Chip’s wedding. It was a short trip that was filled with family. It was great to be home, and the trip was such a whirlwind of festivities and fun, that it wasn’t until I was seated in the plane, gazing out the window and looking down at Delaware that the emotions began to flood over me. I’ve looked at Googlemaps a bunch of times, and I analyzed the different neighborhoods, houses, and land, but I’d never flown over the state before. I was suddenly struck by the fact that I no longer live in the Delaware Valley.
There are moments in life where you reconcile your past life with your present one. I looked down at my house in Darley Woods and looked back, as I replayed the moments my brother and I explored the forest as kids. We climbed in storm drains, caught tadpoles, and found a rock that we swore was a diamond and would most definitely make us rich. Then there was Ashbourne Swim Club, where I was a good swimmer, and the little league field off I-95 where I was a not so good baseball player. Then Concord High School, where an angsty sixteen year-old played Dashboard Confessional in his Chevy Cavalier and thought that the education system was designed to make people slaves to the man.
I remember all of the versions of Michael who grew up in Delaware and I smile – especially at the self-loathing teenager. “Yes,” it will be amazing to see any R-rated movie you want to, and “Yes,” it will also suck when you have to pay your credit card bills and wonder where all your money went. I look back at the Michaels in Delaware as a twenty-eight year old adult. It’s suddenly apparent that I’ll be 30 soon and not only will my childhood be gone, but so will my early adulthood.
It’s also when I’m thousands of feet in the air that I remember one of my favorite books growing up, Winesburg, Ohio. My favorite part was the end where the reporter, George Williard, gets on the train to leave his town and thinks about the small things, the people and places that touched him, and he’s reminded that the town he grew up in was the background needed to paint the dreams of his future. Delaware is one of those strange, small places that I’m happy to call home.