The return to our house is a straight line from the highway on a country road edged by tall firs and fields, past a fire station and the city dump, a lavender farm with a red barn, horses, sheep, and a turn into our dark driveway.
But this time, because of a car shuffle, we went on into town. My husband said as we drove by sleeping houses: “It feels like returning to a little hometown.” In the morning I asked him what he meant. He said, “You know, like I feel when I go back to my hometown – comfortable, familiar.”
My husband is the opposite from me, born and raised in the same little town, he still goes back. His family home (a graceful old house on a tree-lined street named Pennsylvania Avenue) got demolished to make way for an awkward modern building, but the feeling is still there.
When I drove into town to school the next day, I thought about how I felt to be back. For sure this place satisfies the town part of hometown – not a village or a city but a town, tourist town, mill town, old Victorian town. Small town with an uptown and a downtown, with a main drag named Water Street with one stoplight.
This town is a picture book layout of buildings tumbled along streets and hills. The peaks of the Cascades form the horizon in the far distance. In front of them are peaks of house roofs, round tree shapes and conifer uprights, a large rectangle of the high school, and a turn of the last century, still-functioning courthouse. A clock face on its tower chimes the time all day and looks like a full moon at night.
I’m heading toward the post office, high-ceilinged old-fashioned building with filigreed mailboxes – and a view. From there you catch sight of downtown – the water in the bay and old brick buildings of interest and charm, still lively with use. There’s an historical sense and a happening sense here.
Interest and charm and beauty mean comfort for me. And this town is surely familiar now – the welcoming smiles of wee scholars and staff and post office clerk make me happy – make me feel at home.