Home Again, Toto
Thomas Wolfe is credited with saying you can’t go home again. Of course there are multiple layers of meaning in that statement. I noticed at least one aspect of meaning, the one where home becomes more of a memory as time goes on, after a recent visit to see family. I’ve learned that it isn’t always a good idea to revisit former places of our childhood and jotted down my reflections as I walked through old neighborhoods.
A garbage sack mocks the spot where Mom’s potted azalea graced the front step. A gated barrier replaces the hand-carved mahogany doors. Weeds gather in loud conversations supplanting Dad’s meticulous landscape.
The donut shop remains the same odd little shaked chalet busied by Toyotas and BMWs alike. It’s a strange little anachronism among the neon corporate stores surrounding it. As I pass by it a memory flickers on. I remember back to high school. My stern take-no-prisoners-driver’s ed teacher revealed a soft spot one day by instructing me to pull into the donut shop parking lot. She disappears inside and returns with sack of donut holes. No one at school would have believed us. A secret only to be dredged up someday at a reunion possibly.
The town: a grace of upscale suburbia, an old community, struggling to maintain its dignity as its unique shoppes and colonial clapboard frontage succumb to being slowly replaced by box stores and parking lots. The stylish luxury apartments converted into condominiums are showing their wear, much like wrinkles found in a linen skirt mark the evidence of use.
Childhood memories remain, yet become increasingly marred by these yearly trips home. Perhaps it’s true that you can’t really go home again because home is now relegated to the past, then again sometimes home presents itself in a sound bite: the speed boat chop on the lake reminds me of teen summer fun; the smudgy glance into favored memory flashes by as I drivepast an icon building, the steepled church where youth group met ever so long ago. Upscale Neighborhoods slip into weedy shabbiness, stretching sections from nice to nervous when walking through.
A hodge-podge of cultures, a grab bag of mixed socio-economic populace is startling while browsing for dinner ingredients at the local Safeway, and becomes a reminder that going home is a state of flux.
I concur with Dorothy–Kansas, metaphorically speaking, is not the same because it’s changed and so have I.