During a recent visit to my hometown, a childhood friend, Jenny, and I took her small boys and husband to a park that we had long ago traversed and explored. This is Big Rock, a clever name to be sure. I have several memories of this place: sitting on a picnic blanket across the creek with my grandmother and siblings, being dared to climb that rock when no grown-ups were around, posing for silly pictures on top of it as a teenager, and cringing upon hearing of the lady down the street who’d fallen off of Big Rock as a child and “was never the same after that.”
Visiting Big Rock for the first time in nearly twenty years felt like walking around inside a dream. The place felt so familiar, so… the same. What was missing was my young self. I became super aware of the distance traveled, inside myself and out in the world, since last being there. And who was this grown woman alongside me? My childhood friend Jenny is now Jen, a wife mother journalist. But in the way I remember Big Rock, I remember that girl she was and that girl I was. And, like Big Rock, I will always recognize them and hold them in my heart.