... You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame,... away from all the strife and conflict of the world, ... back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.
By Thomas Wolfe
You can't go home again.
The above quote by Thomas Wolfe is the denouement of his novel, You Can't Go Home Again. It echoes the frustration of unmet expectations that people typically experience when taking a nostalgic journey.
So much changes through the years. Old buildings are torn down, new buildings erected. Long time businesses close their doors, new ones open. New roads are built which redirects traffic from its former patterns. Things change.
People change. The young grow up. The middle-aged get older. The elderly die. This inexorable conveyor belt of life keeps everyone moving along at a pace which becomes dizzying after a while.
We change. What we were ten, twenty, thirty years ago is not what we are now, though inwardly we may not feel any differently.
So in our time travel to past locations and lives, we are met with this burden of change.
And it can be disappointing.
But I think you can go home again - at least in a way that makes it less melancholic, less shocking.
MJ and I celebrated our 30th anniversary late last year. We talked about what we would do for it. The idea of a cruise seemed to be at the top of the list. Hey, that's what everyone does, right?
But a cruise struck me as more cliche than anything else, and MJ wasn't overly enthusiastic about it either.
For the past several years, I had suggested we go to Savannah, Georgia during one of our trips to the south to see family. But the timeframes never worked out for us to do so.
Then one day last year, someone asked my wife what we were doing for our 30th. She, in turn, asked me. On the spot, I answered almost immediately, "We're going to Savannah." It was settled.
The day after Christmas, we boarded an American Airlines flight to take us south.
You see, Fort Stewart, Georgia is where I met MJ. Tybee Island is where I proposed to her. Savannah, Hinesville and the surrounding area were home for a while, both as singles and then as a couple and the idea of returning to our roots was appealing.
We spent a week in Savannah, Hinesville and Fort Stewart checking out old haunts and finding many of them no longer existed. Of course, there were major changes, but we still knew the old ways to get around and they sufficed.
We looked at it all as outsiders now, but strangers with a special knowledge of the area and its history especially how it pertained to us. There was no sadness for any disconnect that we may have felt. We had fun as we pointed out places and talked about them.
And now, a few weeks removed from the trip, I can say that it certainly felt a lot like going home.
Even if it wasn't.