Monday, January 05, 2009

Travelogue: You Can't Go Home...

As I sit back and reflect on this past christmas' bi-annual trip home, I'll be posting sporadically about the trip, as the mood takes me. This is part one, in which I talk about some rubbish or other. Or something.

Whilst a trip back "home" is primarily about family, I do get rather A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu-ey when I'm there. It is, after all, where I spent my formative years, and it's hard to be away from a place where one's roots grew and come back expecting to eschew nostalgia, so, on ne'erday, I strolled up to where my old high school used to be. Used to be. That old saying quips that one can 'never go home', and I'm finding that it's absolutely true. I left the sprawling metropolis of East Kilbride a decade ago (I say "sprawling metropolis" somewhat sneeringly thanks to that very Scottish trait of the national inferiority complex, but the town really sort of is metropolistic when you compare it to WV's 'cities' with just fifty thousand people) and on subsequent trips back, I've been able to sort of recharge my batteries by visiting facets of my former home town. Not that I miss it particularly, I don't get attached to places, but in visiting things that I remember from my childhood, it means that a part of doesn't have to grow up, that - even for a brief second - I can pretend that I'm thirteen again and have the world at my feet, rather than some beardy schlub who is well into his third decade and has achieved absolutely nothing of substance or importance.

But every time I go home, little things change. Things evolve. I shouldn't fight against it, evolution is a good thing, but difficult to swallow when you go away for two years and the things you think will never change, do.

So, I walked up to where my high school used to be. A towering village of buildings reduced to - literally - a pile of rubble, and it gave me pause to think... Wow, that's finally it. There's hardly anything left. My primary school got knocked down and replacedaround four years ago, the house I grew up in has been improved and remodeled to the point where I'm hard pressed to point to anything there that hasn't been changed, painted or replaced since I left, the shops in the shopping mall I frequented have all changed, and now, my high school.... Gone. Places I could go to to fill up on being a carefree teenager, gone. Landmarks of times gone by, gone. My childhood, gone. The fact is this - it's not my town anymore. It moved on without me. It's different. It changed. It grew. It's not necessarily an "ay, oh, way to go, Ohio" situation, most of the changes are vast improvements to the aesthetics and infrastructure of the old new town, what offends me the most is that it changed without consulting me.

I shouldn't be upset about that. After all, I abandoned it a decade ago. It's only fair that it should retaliate. Good job that my family hasn't altered in the least, or I'd really be perturbed. Long live those massive Irn Bru-flavoured belches and floor rattling farts from my dainty sisters!


RedZeppelin said...
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RedZeppelin said...

I know exactly what you're feeling. I had the same experience when I went back to my home town after being gone for about ten years. Some of the places were the same, but there were new subdivisions with new roads, and my high school had turned into a pre-school or something.

I think another way to put the "You can never go home" cliche is the quote from the great Buckaroo Bonzai: "No matter where you go, there you are." You can go home, but you can't go back to the way you were when you lived there.

I revisited my teen haunts in hopes of recapturing, if only briefly, the feelings I had as a teen. Only shadows of those feelings remained. Instead there was a goofy 30+ year-old with all the same problems and fears just looking at familiar sights. Sigh.