I drove up to my hometown last weekend to catch a show at my old high school. My little sister is a freshman, and this was her debut musical — and I will take this opportunity to brag about how fantastic she was. She was expressive and delightful and she interacted with her castmates in an incredibly authentic way. Really, the entire show was wonderful. They had a phenomenal pit orchestra, and the show — Freaky Friday — was quirky but heartfelt. I teared up more times than I am proud to admit and I laughed a ton.

So, despite the 10-plus hours I spent in the car this weekend driving there and back, I’m happy I went. Still, I wasn’t prepared for how sad I felt leaving town again. Perhaps it was the overt themes of approaching adulthood and losing hold of your youth from the musical, or the fact that I packed up more of my childhood bedroom while I was home, or the strange nostalgia that always seems to accompany walking through your old high school, but by the time I left Duluth I was quite emotional.

There are parts about growing up that I think often go unmentioned. No one told me that you can have everything finally lined up, and be thrilled for the steps ahead, feeling like things are clicking into place for the first time in a long while, and sadness will still come with it.

I moved to Worthington a little less than a month ago and this was the first time I’ve been back to Duluth since. The initial move happened very quickly, and it was tangled up with the excitement of starting a new job. But as I pulled out of the parking lot of my old high school, it really sunk in that I don’t live in Duluth anymore. When I left for college and went to Chicago, it was still with the knowledge that I had a place to come back to in Duluth. My house, my room, the people I had lived beside my whole life would still be there when I got back. But now, when I make that long trek, I’m not going home. I am a visitor in my hometown, which is a strange and daunting thought.

Of course, I don’t regret moving — I love my new job and I am so excited about the work I get to do here in Worthington. The growing pains, though, still catch me off guard.

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For instance, seeing my little sister on stage — a stage I spent much of my high school career occupying — was both gratifying and bittersweet in a way I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t get to help out with the set for the show, or do ticket sales, or lend a hand doing hair and makeup behind the scenes. But at one point, my sister came back on stage after a quick change, dressed in a drama club sweatshirt she had taken from my closet. My name was on the back, and though I teased her for stealing it, I was quite touched to see a piece of my history overlapping with hers.

I’m not there in the same way I am used to being — with over five hours between Worthington and Duluth, I simply can’t be — but as far as I go, some part of me will always be tied back there. There’s no changing that, and despite the way moving on and growing up can sting sometimes, I wouldn’t want to change it either.