Can’t go home again

Last weekend, 4th of July weekend, I went home with my mom.  On Independence Day, I was home.  A loaded concept – Home and Independence – rich, deep, and intertwined ideas.

My intention for this blog is to share my learning, out loud, hopefully growing and stretching myself through exposure.  Preferably measured exposure because I often have the pattern of diving in headfirst and cracking my skull.

So last weekend when mom and I drove home to Oxford Ohio, I felt the creepy crawly nostalgia of going home.  I wanted to leap into home, but life didn’t allow for that.  Instead, I needed to tip-toe because it was eerie and distant. I couldn’t reach out and grab home, then stuff it in my pocket so I could carry it around forever.  No.  There was a fence between home and me.

“You can never go home again.”  I don’t know who said that – maybe my grandmother Cleo, maybe Nietzsche, maybe God, maybe the homeless guy who hangs out in the parking garage…whoever is was, she is correct.

While you can go to a place, a geography, you can’t go Home again.  I’ve known this for a long time, in fact I’ve been homesick for as long as I can remember.

Home – even the long vowel sound when I say “home” (“oh” and “mmm”) makes me pause, linger, open my eyes wide, all with hope.  My hope is to feel home – the associations I have with the place where I created attachments stronger than steel, and where I learned to love, think, create and be determined.

This place, home, gave me the most treasured gifts – freedom, spirit and roots.

Reflecting about freedom…why did I feel such freedom growing up in this place?  I believe it was part place (objective and tangible), but almost all attachment and belonging.   My hometown, Oxford Ohio, was the best place to grow up in the 70s – a small rural college town where we could run wild, explore, play, learn, all surrounded by our faculty parents and cornfields.

Part of growing up is learning self-reliance, building self-esteem and objection relations – attachment to “objects” (others) and also the separation from these objects, and still feeling safe and secure during separation.  Having this solid material in ones foundation provides an advantage in life — when life punches you in the face, you’ll rebound faster and with fewer bruises.  Knowing one’s center – navigating the compass of life.   Some of my friends had this – Kim, Stan, and Katie.  They had the magic of place (oxford) and the secure bonds of family.

When my family fell apart, my gang of friends rescued me – like a life jacket in deep ocean water.  Earlier Kim, Andy, Kelly, and Gabe.  Later, Scott, Becky, and Kim.

We rode bikes without helmets all through town – there was no where we couldn’t go on our bikes – the duck pond, each others houses, the pool, uptown – everywhere was accessible and we didn’t own bike locks.  Never wore a watch or even thought of the time.  We were told to be “home when it gets dark.”

Notice I started using “we.”  Home is not about me.  Home is about us.  We were a tight group, a gang of friends. My sense of we allowed me to feel free.  Knowing I belonged gave me the boost to leap into life and try – we were all trying – trying to understand or simply ignore why our parents were getting divorced, trying to fall in love, trying to move through awkward adolescence without too many scars, trying to hush life and just play (!) — trying to figure out who we were.  we experimented separately and together.

This was the only time in my life I felt unconditional love  — love from these friends.  I could make mistakes, say the wrong things, make bad choices, trip and fall on my face, and they were always by my side.  We made mistakes together because it’s all we knew how to do – to try, fall down, and then try again.

When I left home, life became a solo act.  My gang no longer had my back.  Homesickness started and has continued to haunt me.

Feeling homesick – missing the feelings I used to have – that I associate with home.  The place, my friends, childhood teachers, freedom, choice, a wide-open arena to explore, try and grow.

Last week, at home, flooded with self-reflection — Who am I?  Who did I become?

I close my eyes and can instantly plant myself at 505 Glenview Drive.  I see the massive sycamore tree in the backyard sheltering the yard and small red barn.   See the creek behind the trees and the cornfields up over the hill on the other side of the creek?  See the daffodils my mom planted all over the yard, front and back, surrounding the base of all trees, the rims of the house, and in wild random patches throughout the back meadow.  Do you hear U2’s October?  Can you hear it?  Listen!  You’ll hear robust sounds, see brightness, glory, innocence and forever.  Nothing contained and everything open.

Many artists write songs about Home but few do it so gracefully as the Foo Fighters in this acoustic song “Home.”  please listen.

Foo Fighters Home

Wish I were with you but I couldn’t stay

Every direction leads me away

Pray for tomorrow but for today

All I want is to be home

Stand in the mirror you look the same

Just lookn’ for shelter from the cold and the pain

Someone to cover, safe from the rain

And all I want is to be home

Echoes and silence, patience and grace

All of these moments I’ll never replace

No fear of my heart, absence of faith

And all I want is to be home

All I want is to be home

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One Response to Can’t go home again

  1. No, you can’t go home again (Thomas Wolfe…see link below), but you can recreate some of the best parts of home wherever you are. Even as an adult you can pull together a group of friends who will have your back, who will be your cheering crew as you all fumble your way forward through life. I mean, it may be 30 years later, but we’re still all trying to figure things out; they are just different things.

    Or perhaps not: “trying to fall in love, trying to move through awkward adolescence without too many scars, trying to hush life and just play (!) — trying to figure out who we were.” That could describe most adults I know too.

    Maybe, SF, part of your path of measured exposure is exposing yourself to enough new people that you can rebuild a core group of friends. If home is less about place than about “us,” then the key is to have an “us” wherever you are.

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