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  • Writer's pictureDerek Chowen

Everything Old Is New Again...

Updated: Jan 22

Who'd a thunk it? Leaving your hometown makes sense. Lots of youngsters "can't wait to get outta here" when it comes to the towns we were born and raised in. I think wanderlust is part of our DNA. We are both to explore. Seek adventure and meet new people. Then get back to our true home and reconnect. It's a beautiful circle.

I left Alpena years ago like many of my classmates did. My exitus wasn't a disdain for the town of my youth, not at all. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Leaving my friends, my familiar haunts, my Dad. It was exciting but agonizing. I believe humans are like a business. If we stop growing, we die. Maybe metaphorically speaking but just as real. And just as dangerous for some.

Twenty three years away from Alpena. Twenty three. It doesn't seem possible. My experiences on the Gold Coast were the best of times and the worst of times. Hey wait a second. That sounds familiar...

Moving back to Alpena wasn't a hard decision that kept me up many sleepless nights. It was more an epiphany. One of my friends said, "Sometimes a change of scenery is good for refiring the creative engine but being the overachiever that you are, you decide to just move altogether." I hate to give her too much credit but she's right. My creative engine is refired.

I get to be by some of my very dearest friends. I'm close to Dad's shop now which puts me a little closer to him and some of his many treasures. I'm a member of the yacht club again. It's a great group of people that love the water. I took my sandwich in there and had lunch the other day. I sat in the warm bar and watched the wind whip the snow around outside. It won't be long and that will be a beautiful summer breeze.

Seeing the familiar faces is therapy. The look in people's eyes must match mine. "I know I know you so I'm going to say hi and see if we can figure this out together." On the other hand, some people are impossible to mistake. Now that I think about it, I may be the only one that got older while I was away.

The true test of "Am I really home?", is where you pick up with friends you haven't seen in years or even decades. This may be the first 100% I've scored on a test. Ever.

I walked into the Eagles club on a random Friday night. The greetings were amazing and the laughs were just as I remembered them. The stories might be embellished a little bit but I don't think so. Not much. It is kind of odd though. When I lived here a quarter century ago, I thought the Eagles club was only for old people. I looked around while I was in there and it was people my age now. No old people at all!

Driving to some of my old favorite places has been challenging at times. One of my old elementary schools is no longer a school and is in disrepair. The paint is peeling and the doors that should have little kids blasting through them to get to recess are blown full of snow. No little boot prints to be found. My old watering hole is a parking lot now, the results of a fire in a century old building. The hometown grocery stores are nearly gone. It was so good to see Perch's IGA expanded and thriving. Oh, and no self check out! Real people to ring up and bag your groceries just like the olden days!

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