Visiting Middletown

So, on to my trip.  After arriving at Dulles airport I rented a car and drove to Frederick, Maryland (just next store to my ‘hometown’ of Middletown, Maryland.).

My friend Joan Saunders Orchard was nice enough to let me invade her daughters room and stay at her house for the weekend.  She has such a great family. (All of my friends have wonderful families and it was fun to witness their differing parenting styles.  They also nearly all have 2 kids!).

10 years.  It has been 10 years since I last visited Maryland.

My only excuse is that with my parents living in California life has kept me on the West coast for most of that time.  Still, thanks to the internet I have been able to keep in touch with most of my friends and it was so great to see all of them.

Rather than give you a day-by-day travelogue I have put the photos from this portion of the trip below with explanations underneath.

Aside from having a great time visiting with my friends my visit gave me several moments of clarity.

1. Its nice to know that deep down inside I am still the same-old ‘Rachel Wagner’ from high school.  While I hope I have grown wiser and more mature my heart is still the same. In walking my old paths I was reminded of both the good and bad times of my childhood and felt a sense of pride for the woman I have become.

2. I realized why I sometimes feel unique or different in Utah.  It’s because I grew up in a different culture.  I don’t know if I can explain why but I feel like in Maryland people are more accepting of individuals the way they are; whereas, in Utah the emphasis is on perfecting oneself.  Both perspectives are good and I think I am better for having both inside my heart.

3. There is a deep comfort in knowing that once a place is home, it will always feel like home.  While things had changed (lots of new houses in Middletown and the Golden Mile in Frederick was not so golden anymore) at its heart good old Maryland felt the same.   I believe I have 4 homes Utah, Maryland, Indiana and wherever my parents are (currently California)

4.  It is also comforting to see that old friendships are constant and enduring.  There isn’t a photo but when I went to breakfast with my best friend from high school, Meredith Tolley, it was just as if we had seen each other the day before, not 10 years ago.   Growing up my parents would often introduce us to their friends and I used to wonder ‘how can they be your friend when you haven’t seen them in years?’.  As an adult, I understand.  Once a friend, always a friend.

5. I was overwhelmed throughout this trip by a deep sense of how much I am loved.  When I think of the truly lonely people out there I wonder what I did to deserve such an abundance of love in my life.  There are so many people who genuinely care for me- so much so that I can hardly keep in contact with everyone (thank you again internet).

There are literally hundreds of people I could call if I was in need of a comforting, loving voice.  I think of the people I met on my mission who had nobody and I am beyond grateful for the blessing of great love in my life.  Thank you to all my friends.  I love each of you so much.  I’m sorry for not saying it more often.

6.  Finally, it was very interesting to hear how my friends perceived our home.  In talking with them they all had such warm, kind things to say.  I always looked at our house as full of chaos.   With my Mom on bedrest for most of my freshman year and the stresses of taking care of a  toddler and new baby it certainly didn’t seem like a fun hang out spot for my friends.  I was really surprised that none of them remembered such things. Time is an interesting shaper of memories…Hmmm.

Joan and her family (her husband is taking the photo!)
the house I lived in from 92-98. Basically looks the same except for the shutters.
I visited my high school- Middletown High School. It was a walk down memory lane
Visited with my dear friend and old young women's leader Sister Nancy Potter. She made a big impact in my life. We have been pen pals for years. (Although I've been a slacker lately, she always remembers my birthday)
braved my way through DC traffic to visit the temple.
I couldn't find anyone to take my photo at the temple so self-photo it is!
Sunday I visited my friend Natalie. It was so good to see her and meet her kids. I've known here since I was 12 or 13.

On to the next part of my trip! DC!  Thanks to everyone who made time for me. It was a wonderful visit.


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