I left Ohio ten years ago this past July. It was only a couple of years ago that I finally realized you really can never go home, and that the small town I was expecting to see when I visited just wasn't there anymore... on one hand, it remained the same boring place, full of churches and gas stations and not much else... but on the other hand, it seemed there was nothing familiar about it. Too much time had passed... people had moved on and made the town something it wasn't when I lived there. It took me being gone a long time to realize this happens to everyone's hometown. The longer you're away from it, the less it is yours anymore.
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Currently, in my hometown of Hubbard, Ohio, they are putting the finishing touches on a brand new high school. There are four schools in Hubbard: a parochial K-8 school, and the public elementary, middle, and high schools. Once the high school is complete, they'll tear down the old high school to make room for the new middle school. Then they'll tear down told middle school to make room for the new elementary school. It'll be a convenient campus, with access to pretty much anything a student could want. (Gone are the days of walking from the middle school to the adjacent community pool for swim classes in the middle of winter, and walking back to the middle school with frozen hair.)
We recently spent a week in Ohio and I drove past the new high school and mid-demolition old high school. I'm surprised to be full of emotion about this. My parents both went to the old high school. I went there, and so did both of my sisters. When I was younger, I always imagined sending my kids there when I grew up. (Note: not in a million years would I send my kids to Hubbard schools now, mainly because I'd have to live in Hubbard to do so. Oy.) I was nostalgic about the whole thing before I saw the school being torn down. But what really got me was seeing the band room with the windows blown out.
Gina and I met in band in the summer of 1992. We both played saxophone. (She was a cool band kid - I was not.) I loved being in band. I have so many good memories in that band room, vivid memories, but not vivid enough. It was always comforting to think that the band room would always be there for me to visit. My strongest connection to high school is with the band room, but the truth is, I loved every bit of that school. I had a great time, and learned a lot about myself in those four years. I laughed A LOT there, and met people who would become lifelong friends. I had teachers who I still think about to this day, teachers who changed the way I think about myself and the world. (I certainly had a lot of crappy teachers too... it wasn't all sunshine and roses.) To experience such a visible, tangible destruction of part of my past has been weird, to be perfectly honest. It's crazy to think all of that will be gone.
They had an open house of the school before they began demolition last spring. Of course, we couldn't go because well, we live in Los Angeles and Hubbard is not nearby.
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I was sad to miss it, but I'm old enough to know that walking through those hallways one last time won't elicit the feeling I'd be expecting. And the truth is, I know that school so well, I have it mapped out so vividly in my mind, what would one more walkthrough do? It reminds me of the scene in the series finale of Six Feet Under, where Claire is getting ready to leave home and she gets the family together for a picture, and Nate comes up behind her and says, "You can't take a picture of this... it's already gone."
So it's good. Out with the old, in with the new. Besides, I have gina, who I can say without a doubt is my favorite memory from high school.