There must be a psychological term for the emotional phenomenon that occurs when one returns "home." I don't mean the home we make as adults with our own families, I mean the one where we grew up. I suppose it doesn't happen to everyone, especially those who moved around a lot, for they do not have a concentrated lot of memories in one home. My parents purchased the house I mostly grew up in when I was eight years old, and my mom still lives there, so it is chock-full of memories for me. But it's not just the house that stirs up these feelings, it's the whole town. It's the highways and farm-to-market roads and creeks leading into the town. It's that picnic area on the south side of Highway 290 right outside of town where I used to go at lunch during high school, alone, and just sit. My dad was sick my senior year with a brain tumor; he died the following spring. Things were tough. Really tough. I would take a packed lunch to the picnic area and sit in my car. We pass that very area every time we come into town; it seems to reach out and grab me.
Perhaps we leave little bits of our hearts in the places where we have memories. Maybe that's it. And when we are heading to a place, like our hometown, where there are a lot of little heart bits scattered about, entering the area of familiarity causes those bits to consolidate and that feeling rises up. You know, that Hometown Feeling--a quickened heartbeat, weird stomach feeling, and the turn-left-here-I-know-a-shortcut routine. Surely this doesn't happen to those who have never left their hometown, for their whole heart still resides there and nothing is missed. But it happens to me. Every time.
And why does this always seem to happen right when you're about 30 minutes from your final destination?