I was riding around my hometown today, passing many of the places I remember as a kid growing up. Snellville, GA was a great place to grow up. It had a small-town feel even though it was in the shadow of the big city of Atlanta. The traffic was much heavier today than it was in 1993 when I was driving my 1985 Pontiac Firebird. That was a great car. I remember testing the speed on that thing when they were building the Ronald Reagan Parkway in 1994. It handled well on that fresh asphalt. I drove by the Applebee’s where Kerrie and I had our first date (sort of, long story) back in early 1998. I think my brother worked there at one time. I drove by the Donut King where my friends and I and would get donuts on Sundays. We still made it to Sunday school but often late. I drove by the place where my friend’s dad had a BBQ restaurant. It’s not there anymore and now an extra lane of the highway runs where the parking lot used to be. I can’t remember why it was torn down, I heard it may have been a fire. I loved that place, and it was where my crew would meet for breakfast every Friday. My friend Chad’s dad owned it and he would make us special biscuits on our birthday. I worked there one summer and had a good time. I drove by the First Baptist Church where I grew up and was married. Those huge white columns that face the highway still remind me of so many memories. I took the long way back to my parents’ house and passed Maple St. My friends and I raced our cars there more than a few times. I noticed today that they have installed those giant speed bumps. I passed old Briscoe Park and the pool was packed. There are 4 lanes now instead of 2, but the park looks the same.
As I turned on Pate Rd and made my way back to my parents, so many memories came flooding my mind and my heart. People and places that I haven’t thought of in decades suddenly were fresh in my mind as though I had just experienced them. I love being home and I love being in my old hometown. It’s not the same and so much has changed but being back has me in my feelings. I wonder what it is about home that is so therapeutic. Even as I write this, our entire family is gathered in my parent’s living room watching the Atlanta Hawks game. It is game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals versus the Bucks. Everyone is engaged and it is loud in here! I love being home.
As I begin a few weeks of vacation with family, one of my goals is to rest. My soul is tired. I don’t need to sleep late or take naps; I need an extended time for my soul to be at rest. I read recently that a tired soul is like a broken bone in that it needs time to heal. I didn’t realize it was happening, but a slow drive through my hometown today began the restoration process for my soul.
Good memories are therapeutic. They have a way of soothing your soul. A flashback of a good memory is like a whisper of hope to your soul. It reminds you of the people and things that are important to you. The Applebee’s brought back the memories of courting my wife and how our journey together began. The Donut King brought back memories of growing up in a great church with faithful friends. Those years in church were foundational to my life and my career. Thinking about the old A&J’s Barbeque reminded me of the joy found in a loyal circle of friends. A quick spin around Snellville was like a good session with a trusted therapist.
Memories are our most endearing friend or our most relentless enemy. They can soothe our souls, or can torment our minds. Today, my memories are a faithful friend. They took me back to a place that I had not been to in a long time. They reminded me of a simpler, happy time in my life when I was surrounded by great friends and loving family. Everyone walks a different journey of soul care. There are varied steps along the journey toward a healthy soul. An important step on my journey is remembering. Remembering the great places and great people that shaped my early years. Remembering where I came from and the values I unintentionally learned as I was living my life. Remembering that no matter where you go and how long you are gone, you can always go back.