Thursday, January 22, 2015

You Can't Go Home Again.

There's an old saying that keeps popping into my head more and more as I get older.

"You can't go home again."

It's also a book, by Thomas Wolfe, for those who are interested.

I have heard the phrase forever, and used to think, 'Bull!'.

I used to go home all the time!  

When I went away to university at 18, I would come home for every holiday break, and sometimes in between.

When I decided to move to Nova Scotia permanently, and got my own apartment, I would still go home regularly to visit, and eat!

When I got married at 25, I went home! Had the wedding in my hometown.

I would take the kids home to visit mom and dad, and sleep in my old room, which granted had been redecorated to include a crib, but it was still my room.

It was still home.

I always went home. 

The old saying was just that.  An old, meaningless saying.

And then my dad died. 

And slowly, year after year things and people change, and what was once  'Home', becomes the house you drive by on those occasional visits back to the street you grew up on, in the town you grew up in.

Now, I take the kids to visit my mother in her new house, that she shares with her longtime boyfriend.  (Boyfriend? I still find it weird saying that.)

And the boys and I now stop by and visit with my dad in the graveyard.

I'm finally starting to understand it.

That old, meaningless phrase.

I can no longer drive over the 'little bridge' and look off to the right and see my grandmother's house.

The view is completely obstructed by a bunch of apartments now (I think they're apartments), where once her neighbour's little house sat. 

And my grandmother, I now visit in her nursing home, but she has no idea who I am, when she looks at her eldest grandchild. 

This past Christmas, the boys and I went home again.  

Regardless what it might actually be, I still call it home.

It was a short visit, but it's always nice to see my family and eat my mother's cooking!

I took the kids for a drive around the old neighbourhood before we left, as we usually do.

I've pointed out different houses to them over the years, where friends lived, told many stories as we'd drive by.

We've spent time at my childhood park and elementary school and we've driven along most of my old paper route.

All of it there, much of it the same, just no longer, home.

Because I finally get it now, the meaning of that old, meaningless saying.

And I honestly consider myself one of the lucky ones. 

I had a great, long run of going home.

Because to me, home was growing up in that house, on that street, in that neighbourhood, in that town, with those parents, and surrounding family and community.

And being able to go back, as often as I did, and everything being just the way it was.

I had all of that for a very long time, so yes, I do consider myself one of the lucky ones.

And even though my mother lives in a different house, in a different neighbourhood, with someone who is not my dad, I'll keep going back to visit as much as I can, because she is my rock and I love her.

I will still visit my family while there.

I will still take my kids on drives 'through town' to show them the sights of my youth and tell them stories.

Because that's what you do when you go back.

But they (whoever 'they' are who invent old, meaningless sayings), are right.

I'm not going home.

Because for some of us, "You can't go home again."


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