We’ve officially been back in the states for more than three weeks now. In this in-between phase of my life, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home—my first home. The city where I was born and the house where I grew up. Good old Greensboro, North Carolina.
This is the longest stretch I’ve spent at home since I was 21 and fresh out of college. But when I walk into my childhood bedroom, it feels like almost nothing has changed. It isn’t a shrine, exactly, but it definitely hasn’t become a home gym or anything either—let’s just say that my mom has yet to be converted by Marie Kondo.
Basically, it’s like an archaeological site of personal history in there. Boxes full of old diaries detailing my 7th grade woes, old birthday cards, photos, trophies, yearbooks…the more you dig, the further back it goes. If I’m home for more than a few days, it’s inevitable that, at some point, I’ll get pulled in. I’ll open up a cabinet or peek under the bed in search of a book or a misplaced sock, and suddenly it’s two hours later and I’m sitting on the floor surrounded by elementary school assignments, simultaneously laughing and cringing at some horrible poem I wrote in the 2nd grade.
Nostalgia is the strangest feeling. Part longing, part relief of knowing the past will stay where it is—the comfort of perspective. Sometimes, like when I crack open that diary from 7th grade, I’m searching for that feeling—the indulgence and security of getting lost in unchangeable memories; the satisfaction of snapping back into the present and appreciating how much has changed.
Other times, nostalgia reaches out on its own and smacks me in the face.
Last weekend, Greensboro got snow. Real snow—the kind of snow that we in the South only see every 10 years or so. The kind that shuts down the city, coats the roads in white, sends everyone scrambling to the grocery store, makes the tree branches sparkle with ice, and turns the park across the street into the neighborhood sledding hill.
There were a few snows like this when I was a kid. Growing up in North Carolina, NOTHING was more exciting than a snow day. It’s a visceral memory, that thrill of peeking out the window in the morning to see the backyard blanketed in white—overnight, like magic—and instantly knowing you didn’t have to go to school that day. (Because in the South, any snow on the ground means school is cancelled, of course.)
Those days are some of my favorite memories. I think, when you grow up in the South, you can never quite shake the magic of snow.
And this one? Despite the fact that it was Saturday and I don’t even go to school anymore, this one had all the magic that I remember feeling as a kid. Callie had never seen snow this deep before, so Chris and I took her out to play in it. We dug up some sleds from somewhere, piled on our warmest clothes, and trudged down to the sledding hill in the park. We tossed snowballs and marveled at the tiny, intricate flakes glinting in the sun. We built a fire, drank hot apple cider, watched movies, and ignored all responsibilities for a day.
It was nothing short of magical. With our trip over and the pressure to figure out the future looming, maybe it was forgetting all that for a day. Maybe it was sharing a part of my childhood with my fiance—making new memories anchored in the familiarity of old ones. Maybe it was just being at home.
The snow is all gone now, and it’s 65 degrees outside, because that’s how it goes in NC. You can’t live in the past, and the snow always melts. The magic is in the ephemeral. But I’m thankful for snow, and for the chance to embrace the nostalgia and enjoy feeling like a kid again—even just for a day.