I pass the park that we used to hang out in after school,

I drive the roads we used to go down together

and I am overwhelmed with memories.

Whenever I come home, it's a graveyard to my high school boyfriend. Especially when we had first broken up — I could barely drive past any of ~our places~ without feeling a deep pit in my stomach. I come home from college for such a short time but 60% of that time is reminiscing on what we used to do here and wondering what he is doing now.

I'm surrounded by my family, who I rarely see, but we can be driving somewhere and I see it — like a flash before my eyes, taking me back to my 16-year-old self. My mother usually asks me about 23 times throughout my stay home: "Do you ever talk to _______," and immediately I feel sick. Even after all this time — I still feel sick. But when that sickness subsides I can't help but wonder if he's feeling this way too.

Why is that?

Am I still so hurt after all these years? I don't think that's the case. We had made our hometown ours. And while I try to separate the two every time I come home, I will still see the parking lot where we had my first kiss or the restaurants we used to frequent.

It's just an adjustment to see this town by myself as opposed to seeing it with another person.

But that happens when you come home.

We come home to our towns as new people, and while the memories can consume us, the new lenses we see the town through show how much we've changed. We're not the same that we were in high school and we will never be that way again — but the memories that may sometimes put pits in our stomachs helped us get to this point, and for that I am thankful.

So instead of dwelling on those memories as bad ones, I'm looking at them with gratitude. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am without him or this town. I'm going to take this time during the holidays to cherish the present instead of dwelling in the past. I'm thankful for him, this town and how the shaped me to be the woman I am.