It’s a tiny village, it takes less than a handful of minutes to drive through as long as the tourists stay on the sidewalk and the asshole driving in front of you doesn’t pull any dumb moves. The middle school and high school parking lots are empty and the only people there is the maintenance crew who are weed whacking. Your favorite pizza joint has moved from one side of town to the other and it takes more willpower than you thought you had not to cross the parking lot after your dentist appointment to the building where your old psychologist still works.
You get in the car and drive down the main road, tears spilling over at the sight of a girl wearing a “senior” t-shirt, passing two churches. One is where you went to pre-school and two years ago had a yard sale that supplied most of your current kitchen. Across the street is the church where you had your troop meetings and a pack of Brownies nearly pulled your pants off.
Downtown looks as quaint as ever, the sun lighting everything up and glittering on the lake. You remember your graduation ceremony, jumping in the water; sunglasses and heels in soft dirt and carrying the long, long train of your sister’s wedding dress. You take a right and then another right past the coffee shop – the sign is faded and worn. A left to slide past the grocery store and onto the back roads past your first (now ex) best friend’s house, swing down the hill, over the bridge and then instead of left you go straight and left so you can drive past his family house and you don’t hurt, but you feel so lonely and ache for someone who you can dance to your favorite song with like that country song playing on the radio says.
You turn around and return to the house that is just the right side of uncanny with new paint and dry wall covering up twenty-five years of memories. You walk up to the front porch knowing you have no key for this place and you sleep better in a city full of strangers.
So you pour another cup of coffee, cold this time, and start trimming down the artifacts of your past.