You can never go home again.

I’m living that adage as I type. A place I lived for thirty years appears as a stranger after having been gone for ten and despite returning every year since. I expect “progress” and its half-siblings, “gentrification” and “destruction”. But the very feel of the place has changed so much that it’s as if I’m brand new to the area and just happen to know my way around.


CU Health Sciences Center as I remembered it.

I can point out where important to me places once stood; I can barely remember what those long ago points of interest once looked like, but there is no sense of familiarity. No more favorite sandwich shop, the hospital where I was treated for my first bout of strep throat. Just a lot of, “I used to go to a place that used to be right there.” My first job still stands on that one corner, but jobs three, four, and five? Dispensary, liquor store, and vacant lot. In that order.

CU Health Sciences Center as it looked last week.

There are still people here who open their arms to me with warmth, care, and a sense of continuity. But beyond them, beyond those last remaining addresses that haven’t changed in forty plus years, there is nothing. Perhaps a cold indifference lingers, nothing to be enjoyed. I have no desire to repeat its embrace.

So. Now what? When what was called home has lost that loving feeling? What’s the prodigal off-spring to do now?

Road Trippin. I love it. Even when the drive is ten to twelve hours (my limit in one sitting these days), there is something about being on the open road that I love. This drive took a morbid turn when in one of those stretches of silence I thought about being dead. Although, perhaps “being” is the wrong verb to use. I mean, dead is the absence of action, right? Anyway, there is this indescribable feeling that tingles through me when I think about what happens after living is done. The idea catches me by surprise more often than I’d like, but I suppose as a sentient being, I’m bound to have moments where I contemplate “the end”. Just wish it didn’t freak me out so much. Oh but then, I guess if I live life the right way, by the time the Grim Reaper introduces itself, I’ll be more than ready for the nothing. I will have done all I wanted to do.  Fingers crossed. The plan is to be in my hundreds, sitting on my front porch over looking a large stretch of beach next to an even larger body of water. Sun shining, fresh air a blowing, Pablo my pool boy strutting around looking sexy as hell and me sitting comfortably in a rocking chair sippin’ something fruity but not overly sweet. I’m feeling good but tired when I decide it’s time for a nap. As I slip peacefully into slumber, the great beyond opens and invites me in. (there’s that indescribable feeling again, is it maybe the biggest fear I’ve ever felt?)


Anyway, the whole deal is what ran through my head on my annual trip to my hometown. It was a bittersweet mix of emotions – more so than normal. The workshop was the best I’ve had to date. There were 30 or so attendees, the energy was positive, the interaction great. Sold 12 books. I had a blast! Saw my good friends…then it snowed. For two days. And I ran out of time to see some more of my friends. And my head started to hurt. And I was reminded of why I moved in the first place as it seemed everywhere I looked, the things that I’d loved about the city when I was a kid were all gone (see the first paragraph).

GoveMS vacant log
That patch of grass there used to hold Gove Junior High School. (sigh)

I’ve got to go back though. Not just because I have such a blast doing the writer’s workshops but because it’s where my heart (dear family and friends) is, and you know what they say about hearts and their homes.

6 thoughts on “You can never go home again.

  1. It’s very bittersweet for me to visit my hometown also. But for slightly different reasons. One of those reasons is that so little ever DOES change in my hometown. And I so wish it would! I know people often say that small towns are so comforting b/c they don’t change, but as someone who grew up in one I can tell you that’s bullshit. There are a lot of things that NEED to change but don’t (like high poverty rate, high teen pregnancy rate, lots of obesity/poor health, low high school graduation rate, etc). For as long as I’ve been alive my hometown has been all about the past: “Oh, such & such USED to be here. People USED to go here to buy this & that. Half the town USED to be employed at this old factory,” etc. You get the drift. But none of that helps the people who are there now! And what gets me the most is that so few people seem to understand that if they want things to improve in the town, things ARE going to have to change. Argh, I’ve hit a soapbox. Anyway, I really enjoyed this post. 🙂

    1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

      I can relate to your story about your hometown never changing. The town I went to college in is like that. The ONLY thing that changes is the college, the rest of the town is stagnant.

      As for my ‘hometown’…with the legalization of Marijuana has come a complete change in the atmosphere, no pun intended. While losing a building here, gaining a new one there hadn’t bothered me so much before the scale of physical change to every place I remember – from the block I grew up on to the furthest reaches there seems to be a complete lack of respect for the historic appeal of the city as a whole, as folks move in and with their money demand housing that’s “new and improved” (but leaves people living in boxes, one on top of the other with nothing but the color on the siding to differentiate them). There have been stretches of homes that were built in the 1800s, early 1900s torn down to make way for high rises, town homes, and single family remodels that look as if they’re auditioning as movie sets for films about a future where everything is the same (all angles and no individual character). There’s been an increase in the amount of people living in poverty as folks move to the state to smoke weed but don’t seem to be interested in getting or capable of keeping jobs; homeless folks panhandling on almost every major corner), traffic. Over all, what used to be a great place to raise kids as far as I was concerned, is now a fond memory. Sigh (steps down off the soap box as well 🙂 )

      1. Ugh, I HATE these new communities that all look exactly the same. They’re the WORST! One of the neighborhoods that adjoins mine is like that. Even the landscaping is basically identical. I can’t stand it. The funny thing is those houses are worth more than the ones in my own community but I couldn’t care less. I like that my community has actual trees that weren’t just planted as part of the landscaping but rather ones that have been there since long before the community was built & that all of our houses don’t look the SAME!

  2. So glad to hear the workshop went well!

    And I see that change in my hometown happen everyday. Poor Paul gets to hear ‘oh, that used to be such and such’ all the time.

    (Also, I like your end of life plan. That pool boy idea is most excellent).

    1. I’ve put a lot of thought into how I’m going to spend my elder years, lol – surrounded by sexy men, sunshine and surf. Hopefully the husband won’t mind too much ;-).

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