5 Thoughts You Have When You Finally Return To Your Hometown

by Ashley Carr
Dylan M Howell Photography

Labor Day weekend marks the first of the holidays where people start to head back to their hometowns.

From awkward run-ins with old classmates at Target to sharing a drink with your high school literature teacher, it's these last few months of the year that trigger both memories and realizations about the place you grew up.

So, brace yourself for a weekend filled with disposable camera pics, drinking cheap beer because #nostalgia and running into one million people you never thought you'd see again.

1. Everyone has aged.

Remember the popular girl in high school? The one with the flowing, naturally blonde hair who couldn't "pinch-an-inch" around her mid-section?

She's still slim as ever (damn you, good genes!), but she's starting to get wrinkles around her eyes (at least we have something in common now).

The hottest guy in the ninth grade is about to welcome his first child (hot dad alert). And speaking of parenting, your parents seem to move just a bit slower, their smile lines run a bit deeper.

I never seem to notice myself aging until I look at the people around me. Now I need to buy some Retinol.

2. Things are different than you once thought.

Remember that English teacher you thought to be the smartest person in the entire world?

He still is, but he's also a human being. And one you can have a drink with at the bar when you run into him.

This time, you're not talking about summer reading, but rather talking about real. adult. things (not creepy things, relax). Who knew!

And that trail you used to hike with your dad – it's only a half-mile long.

I remember with each crunch of twig beneath my feet, I simultaneously felt #Blessed to be in nature and also #NotBlessed because I thought my then-chubby legs were going to fall off of my body.

In short, things are smaller. Teachers and parents are real people. Some things you thought were awesome suck, and vice versa.

3. All of your old classmates and frenemies live at Target.

Every single time I go home, I forget conditioner.

Compared to it's smooth nature in my now-home, California, my hair becomes a frizzy mess in the Midwest. I need that conditioner.

I hop in my parents car and head to Target with the intention to swoop in to the travel section, pick up some Pantene and be on my merry way.

But that's not how Target trips work in your hometown. Or ever, if we're being honest.

Somewhere between picking up every knick-knack I pass in the dollar aisle and my initial destination, I run into my high school nemesis.

Immediately, I panic and pull out my phone to pretend I'm texting. Old habits die hard.

Being the mature adult that I'm trying to be, I promise myself that I'll at least acknowledge the next person I know.

Luckily, it's my old literature teacher who has nothing but nice things to say about my "career path". Thanks, Teach!

Finally, as I reach to grab that teeny-tiny bottle of conditioner, I feel a tap on my shoulder. It's my ex.

Seriously, these people must sleep in the college furniture section (should I buy a butterfly chair?).

His eyes were just like I remembered: kind and bright. Before I can question all of my life decisions and end up back in the arms of my high school sweetheart, I swipe my credit card (spending 100 dollars more than I intended because, Target) and book it back to my parentals' place.

4. This will always be "home".

It's the people. It's the way you can drive from place to place without pulling out Google Maps.

It's the the way a passing scent triggers a memory you didn't know you had.

It's eating dinner with your family.

It's all of these reasons that make you sentimental about the place you will always call "home".