You can’t go home again.
I know the expression, but not the writer nor the book that prompted its use in the mainstream.
I go home infrequently these days since I live nearly three thousand miles away. Still, I find myself returning to my childhood home often enough that I don’t feel like a stranger.
On a typical visit, I try to squeeze too much in, seeing friends and family and soaking in the memories that inundate my mind, powerful and inevitable.
They are mostly happy.
On this particular visit, I traveled with my eldest son while the rest of my family stayed home. A nearly-five-year-old child is quite a nice traveling companion. Super excited to spend a week at his grandparents’ home, he rose and dressed without incident in the wee hours of the morning and cooperated pleasantly during check-in, security and boarding. Disappointed at not getting the window seat, he quickly got over it and was thrilled to order an apple juice from the flight attendant.
He asked her for a ‘jugo de manzana’ and received a blank look. It eventually worked out.
When we pulled up to the house, I was, as usual, overcome with memories. The greenness of the trees seemed richer than the ones I had left behind, their giant leaves majestic and dark. The moderate humidity of a late spring afternoon painted my cheeks red. I noticed subtle changes in my parents’ home; a room has been painted; a rug removed; a new painting hung by the stairway.
But mostly, it stays the same, and this is both comforting and troubling.
I look forward, and backward, and forward again.
Sometimes the things I count on change.
And sometimes those things – or people – on which or whom I do not regularly rely upon come into play – surprisingly, shockingly, willlessly.
And I am grateful.