Home. A simple but complicated word, to me. For 23 years of my life I called Hedrick, Iowa home. Now I call West Des Moines, Iowa home. I call Hampton, Iowa my dad's home. Like I said, a bit complicated. A couple weeks ago, I went home home, as in Hedrick or more specifically Pekin, Iowa where I spent 13 years in school and worked for 4 of those years. Work was what took me back to Pekin, after a three year hiatus. My dad sold our house in Hedrick roughly three years ago and moved to northern Iowa. For multiple reasons, I didn't feel the need to visit, I felt the need to just move on. My dreams of bringing my husband and kids(both hypothetical) back to "grandpa and grandma's house" were dashed, getting to sleep in my old "Barney-blew-up purple room", and visiting people I'd known my entire life over holidays spent at my parents house were all things I had to move past. Life happens, things change, I moved to Des Moines, my dad sold the house and I made a clean break from southern Iowa. BUT the one thing that kept drawing me back was my love for my old job. Not just my old job but the people there. More specifically, the people who helped save my life. At times I can be dramatic, this is definitely not one of them. If you want to meet the most selfless, wonderful, caring, loving, feisty, hilarious people.......... spend a day at the Pekin Childcare Center(with a lunch trip to Miss Kitty's Barber Shop in Ollie, IA). You'll have to try hard for that place NOT to change your life. Read part VIII about 2/3 of the way down the page. (4th paragraph to be exact.) My old boss, Deb, had been telling me that I needed to come visit for a while. I kept thinking that, before I went home and faced everyone[that I hadn't seen in three plus years], I needed to make something of myself first or be somebody cool that everyone would love and lavish with exciting questions about my oh-so-fantastic life that everyone wanted but only I had!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sigh. I settled for having a job I didn't hate and being really happy with where God had put me in life at that moment. I think it was an attitude thing. I was nervous of being treated like the girl whose mom died(aka sad and depressed and congrats that you haven't killed yourself out of grief yet and OH MY GOODNESS its so great that you live somewhere, not in the trenches of your guilt and sorrow.) Yes, somewhat dramatic, but some people have a hard time seeing Me as a thriving [happy] adult instead of the 16-year old sad girl who just lost her mom. Believe me, there's nothing that shoves you off the cliff of depression quicker than someone making you feel like you should be depressed. Well, armed with a lot of prayers and a good attitude and a crap ton of optimism, I took Thursday off for my visit(the day that Quinn and Ellie are at the daycare) and I took Friday off for good measure AND to have a long weekend.
My Thursday started around 3:43am, when my blasted alarm went off. Deb(my old boss) had told me to try and be at the daycare around 7:45am when she walked the school kids over to the main building and retrieved the pre-school kids from the buses. SO I would get to see the twins as they got off the bus, SUPER amazing prospects of my day to come! Well I was up, showered, ready(with really good hair might I add for that early), and I had planned to get some Starbucks(two actually, it was going to be a long day without it) for the road. I left a bit before 6am to get gas and head to SBUX, which was open before 6am and I was ETERNALLY grateful. I swiped up a grande triple skinny caramel macchiato and a triple skinny cinnamon dulce latte. One stayed nice an warm in my insulated cup holder(ah, the little things in life that come with a new car) and one got sucked down as I headed out of Des Moines in the dark. I actually truly and whole heartedly LOVE mornings. It was a crisp, still morning which is just the type that gets my undying love and affection. I had previously made some mixed CDs(wow, that's something that I haven't said in a while but I needed to test out the CD changer in my new car, another perk to the new version!) so I popped those in as I reminisced over each song. It stayed dark for the bulk of my drive, but just as I hit the east side of Pella the sun was starting to come up and I instantly almost started to cry. Because the image of what I was looking at was identical to the painting that I donated to charity almost two years ago. I'm still baffled that I did this.
Not wanting to ruin my fresh make-up(thus ruining the entire "look" I was going for that started with my stellar hair) I wiped the tears and just continued to enjoy the view. Watching the sun come up and the world wake-up is so refreshing to me. The closer and closer I got to "home" the more and more reminiscent I got, about everything. I guess that happens when you're not around much anymore. I think my mind has changed and I now regard "home" as a happy place, and I see all of the good memories about it. I see the idealized version of it that my head and my heart want to remember, not the bad memories that have since been overshadowed.
I got slowed down going through Osky where I had to transition into a two lane highway, those I am definitely not used to OR their turtle-like speed limits. For the last half hour of my trip, I was driving completely into the sun and its lucky that no one got hurt because I couldn't see a thing but it was pretty!!! I got to the Daycare with just a few minutes to spare before we walked the kids over. I had made a killer apple pearberry crisp for everyone to share, so I dropped that off and my stuff and we headed back across the driveway to the main building.
Deb said Ellie was usually the last one off of the bus, so we should have caught them before they went in to school. They've known I was coming for over a month(apparently) and had been bugging everyone at the daycare about it. My heart smiled when I heard that, because I even think its a little odd to love two kids, that aren't even related to me, so much. I'm actually surprised that they remembered me but I was also deeply moved that they still did and were so excited. Well, I got a bit side-tracked. Deb had to pick something up in the office and I(hesitantly, because students were never allowed in there and I still considered all of the teachers, well, my teachers) went in with her and immediately bumping into a couple people from my old church and/or parents of some friends. I saw A's dad(both of her parents were my teachers at one point in my scholastic career and I still call them Mr. and Mrs.) and talked to too many people before Deb had to pull me away. Needless to say, we missed them getting off of the bus. SO I had to wait the entire day before I got to see them, totally worth it but still.
So, we boarded the bus(so long since I've been on a bus) and rode back to the daycare for the day. By the time I got back, it was story/learning time, then some outside time, then back inside for snacks, then back outside and then inside for lunch, wash dishes, watch a movie and get ready for naps! I took a break during nap-time to go visit the best Barber in Iowa. Don't take my word for it, she's got the award to PROVE it!!!!! ALSO she's Deb's best friend and a dear friend to me and someone who means more to me than I think I can ever express. After turning down the only road getting to Ollie(that had apparently been fixed, no more needing to wear a sport's bra to drive on it) I walked into the bright yellow door of her barber shop and got a nice warm welcome like no time had passed since my last visit! So we chatted while people came in and out to get their hair done and after what seemed like minutes, two and a half hours had passed and I had to get back to the daycare to see the twins!
I hightailed it back to the Daycare just in time to say good-bye to Deb(we both dislike good-byes so it was casual, "see you next time" kinda thing) and some other people that I used to work with and was left with all of the newbies that i didnt' know. So I was the creepy girl waiting for the twins. They walked in and HOLY COW, they were not six years old anymore. Which I knew but seriously Ell was almost as tall as I am and Quinn looked just the same, but taller. They're not kids anymore, they're like actual people!!!!!!!! Well I was hesitant to hug them because I didn't know if they were too cool for that kind of thing but I think there was a mutual excitement between all of us. Quinn showed off his stripper moves(I can say that because his mom said that he never like being dressed as a child and she always worried he'd become an exotic dancer) and some awesome kid-jokes. We talked about how Justin Beiber was SO out and the girls that are obsessed with him(you should stay away from, that was my tidbit). We talked about their cousins, their step siblings(one of whom was drunk one morning, thank you Ell for pointing that out and for also saying that it was gross. That's my girl!!!) and everything in between. We reminisced about when Deb put Quinn's hair in pigtails and Ell's clothes and tried to play a joke on me. i have photo proof of that one. Apparently that wasn't the only time but Quinn used to have longer hair and they decided to put pigtails in it and subsequently start calling him Quinderella, AWESOME!!!!!!!! I'm still laughing about that one. OH and Deb told me about a conversation that she had with Quinn.
Quinn: So, is Meredith married yet?
Deb: No. Don't you know she's waiting on you!
Quinn: Oh, isn't everyone!!!!!!!!!
REALLY?????!?!?!?!?! AND that's why they are two of the awesomest kids EVER. I could have just stared at them and watched them be kids because I simply love them so much and they have no clue how much they have done for me and mean to me. Long about 5pm their mom came to get them and we chatted about life and all the happenings and about her having almost 10 year olds!!!!!!!! Their mom is wonderful as well!!!! Well, I needed to be heading back so I walked out with the twins and their mom and headed back to West Des Moines. I had had exactly TWO triple grande lattes and TWO Larabars. And. That.Was. It!!!!!!! So in a starving-hate-to-stop-while-on-a-roadtrip mood, I called Meg and asked if she'd have something waiting for me to eat when I got home. I didn't care, anything edible and mildly healthy. As I sang to my mixed CD's and made my way back to the city, I did a lot of reminiscing and finally came to the conclusion that home, no matter how many bad things have happened and terrible memories lye there, is home and it will always hold a small piece of my heart.