They say that you can't go home again, but that isn't strictly true, I've found. Perhaps a better way to put it might be:
"If you're from a small town, on the edge of the known world, so little changes over time, that you almost can go home again."
You can, for instance, walk always, year after year, decade after decade, in the grove of old birches, pines, and firs, the town cemetery, in which your grandparents are buried.
You can, in fact, hike up the hill to the tallest point of the town, among the evergreens, some of the largest and oldest, and take the elevator up to the rotating restaurant on the view-tower, and eat soft white pulla, and drink weak coffee, while the landscape slowly turns in front of your eyes.
From there, you can see everything: the sausage factory your grandfather ran, the schools you went to, the ones your mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and best friends went to. You can see the twin smokestacks of the town heating plant, a block away from the house you grew up in. You can see the lake, now covered with ice, that you swam in, in the summer, and walked on in the winter.
You can still buy all the same snacks from the same market place stalls, the tiny breaded whole fish, the fried dough pies...
The library and the town museum remain the same, growing shabbier, and becoming renovated on a predictable cycle.
Many of the same trees stand in the same places, growing slowly in the arctic winters. The descendants of the same squirrels you fed as a kid, still dart from tree to tree at the cemetery, and generations of crows and magpies, have hopped from brach to brach, chattering in the same language.
It was a long road to get here. I was so sick, that by the time I arrived, all I could do was to sleep, and wake up again to eat another bowl of berries: blueberries, wild strawberries, currants, raspberries, my mother had gathered all summer long.
I forgot everything: chargers, addresses, extra pairs of long underwear. It's been nice to leave the computer turned off, to leave social media behind. To read thick books on ethnography and history, and thin books of childhood fairytales. To listen to scratchy records, and ski slowly around the pond. Some things, it turns out, not only do not change, but remain in muscle memory.
It's strange to be home. Good and strange...