Saturday, May 2, 2009

going home again

The title of Thomas Wolfe’s novel receives a great deal of use still, sixty-nine years after publication and in spite of the fact that the main character, George Webber, probably deserved not to be able to go back after writing his novel about his hometown and the people there. Most of us haven’t written a novel about our hometown. But we have personal stories and others, still home, have stories too. “You can’t go home again” does have a ring of truth in it. Many of us have made trips back to the old neighborhood to see the familiar spots. How tall the tree in the front yard has grown. The tree house still stands in the oak tree. Remember building that and improving it after a couple of years? The house where we grew up. For some of us, the neighborhood no longer exists, so the choice just isn’t there. You can go but it’s not there. I’m not sure who financed it or planned it, and since I don’t know this, I must write this in the passive voice. My neighborhood has been leveled, including the old church and school. Tomorrow, Father John will baptize my grand daughter, Lila Grace. Afterwards, my ex-wife will host a small reception at her house. In order not to put people on edge, especially my ex-wife’s mother, I’ve decided not to go to the reception. My daughter understands and I sensed even suggested it in her mind but I said it first. Life is like that. You can go home again but you should prepare yourself for changes in the place, the people and most of all, changes in yourself. You can go home again but be reasonable with yourself and do not expect to just see and feel the old familiar things. Some relics, like a tree house, may remain. Reminders that you were there.

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