“You can’t go home again.”
Ever hear that?
It’s from the title of a Thomas Wolfe novel, published posthumously in 1940. It’s the story of a novelist who writes a book and portrays his home town poorly. The people still living there are unhappy with his work to the point of sending death threats.
He can’t go home again.
Behan Gifford and her family sailed out of the Pacific Northwest in 2008. She wrote a post entitled How Cruising Wrecks Lives. It gives a first-hand example of the true meaning of you can’t go home again:
Changed as we are by what we’ve seen, it is now anathema to re-enter the culture we once claimed….our lives, as we knew them, are wrecked. There’s no going back to before.Behan of Sailing Totem
We have a similar phrase in our lives:
“We are ruined for suburbia.”
Holland, MI was our home.
We launched from there in 2010. It’s still home in some ways. When people ask where we are from and we don’t have time or desire to get into the “long conversation” we just answer “We’re from Holland, MI”.
We’ve gone back to Holland.
But as we made our way about town, eating meals we used to eat, driving streets that we used to drive, shopping at stores we used to shop at, I realized it wasn’t just that we didn’t want to buy a house and live there again.
The people didn’t know me.
I kept looking at the faces of people we encountered. I tried to subtract 7 years off their face and see if I could recognize them.
I was successful twice.
Two faces. Two people. One a coworker from over twenty years ago. The other a casual acquaintance from church programs our kids were in.
I was born there. Grew up there. Graduated high school there. Started my businesses there. Bought my first house there. Had my kids there.
But it’s not home. And not because it changed.
You can’t go home again.
Because the you that left won’t be the you that tries to go back.