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Home Again

I read a couple of blog posts tonight about “coming home again” and how it is impossible, and how everyone has done the sophisticated, modern thing and moved far, far away from their “hometown”, shook the dust off their feet, and lost touch with all the people they knew growing up. If I kept following links I could have read several more of these blogs, each one detailing the snapped threads of friendships, the melancholy of knowing you are so much cooler than the people who didn’t move, and the sappy message that home is where your hubby and kiddos are – hubby being someone you met in that far, far away place.

I don’t mean to sound completely sarcastic (Okay, maybe a *little* sarcastic) but as someone who has moved “home” again, I find this attitude cliche. Like most of my generation, I bought into the idea that *the* thing to do was graduate and run – run far, run fast, and don’t look back. Scrape off all those friends and family you grew up with so that you can make a whole new group of super amazing friends who will be as close as family to you…

Um… what?

Not only are those damn hard to find, I can’t help but wonder WHY we’re doing this. We already had friends and family who loved us. We already had a history and roots. So, we dump it all to run somewhere “cool” and start all over and spend years trying to get the same thing WE ALREADY HAD. The answer is simple: we have to get rid of them because they know us too well. How can we become a totally new, totally cool person if we have to drag around the memories of who we were and all the embarrassing, stupid, uncool things we did?

These realizations came to me as we were contemplating the move here last year, and I won’t lie when I say that there is still a part of me that is brainwashed – a tiny part of me that thinks about hiding under the bed when I mumble that I’m back to eating in the same restaurant I ate in since I was a baby, and hanging out with the same people I hung out with in high school – And then I think “Why the **** should I be embarrassed?” I like the spaghetti at that restaurant, so why should I go somewhere else? And yeah, I’m hanging out with those same people because we had fun back then and we have fun now. All the generations who came before us were PROUD to have the same best friend for years, so why the heck shouldn’t I be? Yeah, she knows me – but that’s not as “uncool” and “confining” as TV would have us believe. There’s actually something comforting about it because that means she’s seen me at my stupidest, most uncool, and still talked to me anyway.

That’s not to say I didn’t make some awesome friends in Missouri – many of whom I miss – because I did. And that’s not to say I didn’t love it down there, or would trade my time there for anything, but there is something to be said for being back in south west Iowa. So, to the question “Can you go home again?” I say, “Only if you want to.” Because to do that you have to scrape off the modern concept that success is equal to the miles you get away from your hometown, and you have to accept who you are – not just who you are now, but who you were then – and realize that in truth they’re both pretty cool people.

Ode to Chris

(originally from November 2007)


It’s time for another Harris-Naylor Family Photo Album! Oh boy!!!*listens for cheers and hears only crickets and one lone person clapping way in the back* ah well, I’ll be excited for the rest of you!

This one is on siblings as requested by Manic. Yes, I sorted through a lot of pictures to find/pick these, so I hope someone kind of enjoys it.

My brother, Christopher, was born when I was two years old. To be honest I don’t remember a time before him. In my earliest memories he is a baby.


(this is me at two and my brother at two months)

My mother says that before my brother was born they were worried about how I would take it, especially since I kept climbing in the waiting crib and stealing his teddy bears. But, when he was born I apparently took to him right away and, in fact, was very eager to help with all the menial chores like changing diapers and feeding and all of that. I don’t remember that, though, thank goodness!


I couldn’t decide on a baby pic so you get two)

What I do remember, though, is feeding him m&m’s. He was so little he couldn’t even stand up on his own and was in a play pen. I can clearly see the scene – I had M&M’s in a snoopy bowl and every time I ate one I would throw one into the play pen for him since I couldn’t reach over it and, in fact, was standing on the couch to do this. He’d drop to his knees, search amongst his toys, eat his m&m and then use the play pen to pull himself back up in anticipation of another one. My mom caught me and made me stop because it would make “bubby” choke. Funnily enough he choked on everything else, but not those.


This is his first birthday and my third – adults are my dad in the ugly sweater (you will see that sweater again) , my Grandma Mutchler and my Grandma Harris

My brother is exactly two years and five days younger than me, which means not only are we both Capricorns but we’ve had a lot of birthday parties together over the years. There were years when I resented this, but when we were really little I didn’t know what resentment was, yet. We were the kind of little kids that make people ill – we didn’t really fight and the idea of “name calling” was completely foreign. I learned about it in kindergarten and for awhile we would practice it. It used to make Mom mad.


Our last Christmas in the “Little Green house” in Shenandoah

Besides living in happy Walton land we were also pretty spoiled. No, we weren’t rich, but we always got the things we really wanted. Like for my third Christmas I got a cabbage patch doll – this was the year that people got trampled to get them. Funnily enough my parents bought mine in August before they were popular. I had seen it in Woolworth and wanted it because it looked like “bubby”- a bald baby with blue eyes.

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me at four and Chris at two

We moved out of the little green house – so called because it was little and green – to the “big” house in Coin the winter when I was four. This meant we each got our own rooms! Before that we were sharing a room since we were both too little to know any better but it was coming to the point where we needed separated since he was a boy. For the first winter after we moved out there  I’d  wake up in the morning and find Chris curled up on the floor by my bed – he’d sneak in there in the middle of the night with his blankey and his pillow and curl up on my rug. It drove Mom and Dad nuts, but he eventually got used to the idea of separate rooms.

My brother also didn’t talk – at least not to my parents until he could speak in complete sentences. He must have spoken to me, though I don’t recall it, because I was his parental liaison.  I clearly recall arguing with my dad that Chris did not like spaghetti TV diners and wanted the macaroni and cheese instead. I also recall another incident trying to get him a glass of water while they both said he had to ask for it (of course they finally gave up), as well as other times of being frustrated when they’d tell me I was just making up Chris’s opinion when I knew I wasn’t.


me and Chris and our beggy faces – circa five and three

Moving out to Coin was the start of a lot of “changes”. Besides suddenly having a huge yard and a “big” house- not to mention a staircase that was so handy for many of our games, I started school the following fall.  I remember the first day of school my mom and Chris came to get me and he brought me a rose – we only had one that ever bloomed. It was in front of the front porch and the plant was so old every year you’d get one single blossom and that was it. He talked mom into letting him pick it for me since I’d been gone all day. I still have it in a plastic container in the freezer.


Christmas – I’m jut ready to turn six and Chris is four. That’s Grandma Mutchler’s leg in the chair and mom from the waist down

Chris’s last year “at home” wasn’t a pleasant one. He spent the whole winter sick – it started with scarlet fever, then pneumonia, then scarlet fever then…etc. etc.  The rollaway bed was set up permanently in the front room (which is why the tree that year had to go in the dinning room) so Chris could watch TV and such in the day time without taking up the couch day in and day out – Mom still got company back then in the day time. I don’t remember really knowing how sick he was, though I know now he nearly died several times. Luckily though, the squirt made it through on a steady diet of scrambled eggs.


outside of Dairy Queen – Chris five, me seven

This is Chris in his favorite coat – we went to Burlington Coat Factory that year and got our winter coats and Chris had an “Air force” coat. He wore it all fall, all winter, all spring and as much as he could in the summer because it was “cool” I used to have to help mom and hold him down while she peeled it off of him. He loved that coat…


me eight, chris six in the kitchen – I have no idea why the Koala is in a baby outfit

My brother was always exceedingly precocious – for instance when he was four he did not “toys” instead they were “creative utensils”. He found “toys” or being told to go “play” demeaning. So we always had “projects” more so than games. Sure, we played, but they were more what they now call “role play” games and were almost all played with he intention of turning them into stories later on.

That was another thing we used to do for fun – write stories. We always had piles and piles of paper – it was cast offs from the Shenandoah elementary schools and so only one side was blank while the other had worksheets and such on it. But we would sit down at the table in the dining room with our big tub of crayons and piles of paper and we would write “books”- aka children’s books – complete with the illustrations and when we’d finished mom would staple them together for us. I still have some of them, though Chris took so long on his pictures he rarely finished any of his. He was always such a perfectionist while I tended to fly through things.

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one of the infamous puppet shows

Really, though, every summer we had a new “project” – like one year we made an entire set of “superhero/fantasy paper dolls, another year we made his gumby figure a house out of boxes and decorated it with sticky labels, another time we made teddy town from cardboard and drew and cut out hundreds of inhabitants, and yet another year were our puppets. We went crazy with paper bag puppets and made an entire town’s population of puppets. We then wrote scripts and made backdrops and would then torture our poor parents with them. By then Chad was coming over all the time as well as some of my friend and they quite often found themselves drug into whatever we were doing.

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Halloween 1988

Being siblings we often ended up with matching Halloween costumes. The coolest ones ever though were the prince and princess set mom made us. Funnily enough as kids we didn’t truly appreciate that mom made all our costumes and I remember how trilled we were the year we got mail order clown outfits – until we got them that is. God they were ghastly and cheaply made too, might I add.


Me – 12, Chris – 10, (the guy hiding in the back is our cousin Shawn -13 or 14) – recognize that ugly sweater?


me at 14, Grandpa Mutchler, Chris at 12 and Uncle Mike in the back at Wabonsi state park

He may have taken after mom on the inside, but on the outside he was dad – tall and skinny while I was short and – in his word- squabby.


me – 17, Chris 14 at the last picnic before Grandpa died

That’s one thing though, even in the worst fights (and god knows we’ve gotten into ones that ended in stitches or knives being thrown or chipped teeth) he never made fun of my “squabbyness” He’s probably made fun of about everything else except that, though! But, that comes with siblings.

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me and Chris at my graduation – he got me a single rose to end my school career since he brought me one to start it with – I think that’s Kevin McLaughlin in the background

Mom and dad split up when I was seventeen and mom moved across he state. Initially, I refused to go while Chris said he would go with her, but when the time came he changed his mind. That summer before my senior year I got a wild hair and decided to move with her after all – and Chris was pissed. At that point it was still a given where I went he went so he had to move too. In Mt P I ended up making a whole batch of new friends – back in Coin despite us being two years apart all our friends always ended up lumped together anyway. we were having mixed sex sleepovers when I was little – we slept in separate rooms of course – and so in Mt P when my friends didn’t like him it was a weird thing. I got pissed off at them and told them we were a packaged deal – but by then Chris refused to have anything to do with them.


Chris 18, me 20. chucky (aka the hubby) 21

After graduation I moved out and in with Chucky and Chris got kinda pissy at me for a bit, but he would still drive u town at two am to bring me a Danish roll (I’m paying for it now – the toad calls me next door to turn his light on for him!) But when I moved to Missouri – after he graduated – he got a bit prissy at me for awhile and to be honest for several year there I didn’t see a whole lot of him, not until he moved down here in 2004.

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Chris’s graduation party, me, him and Dan)

In conclusion, by modern standards we are an odd set of siblings. Hell, probably even for “oldy days”. I guess we’re more like twins, despite most certainly not being twins. I don’t know why that is, though. We weren’t particularly isolated as children despite living in happy pony land. I guess it’s just because we are too much alike, not to mention that both our personalities are geared to balance the other one – he’s a perfectionist, I’m impatient – when I draw a picture I make him critique it and it always ends up lots better. He’s depressive, I’m cheerful.etc. Not to mention that even to this day he is my “little assistant” for all those things that hubby runs away from – like turkey cooking. In all actuality I can’t imagine not having a little brother.

Wasn’t that fun? I bet Chris will kill me when he sees this….

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