You Can Never Go Home Again…

by Jake Block

I was asked today if, once my mother-in-law is no longer around, would I leave my current home and go back to California.  I had to give it a little thought.  Although I wasn’t born in California, I spent 22 years there (25 altogether), with a short overseas tour that, at its completion returned me to the San Francisco Bay Area.  I considered myself “a Californian,” and can’t say that I have ever enjoyed living in another place more.  My three year tour in Turkey is the only other place I had ever felt “at home.”  Then came 2002, and we had to leave, making our way back to the midwest to help my mother-in-law as her health began to fade.  Duty.  Family.  Commitment.
So now, 12 years later, she’s almost 87 and by anybody’s calculation, closer to the end of her life.  My commitment to her will end with that, we will repair and sell the house that we bought for her to live in next door and move on with life.  How, we aren’t exactly sure.  Where, we are pretty much decided, will be here.  It’s not like we have put down “roots,” and will have other family members around to support or to bond with, and to be honest with you, it’s a “dead area,” entertainment wise.  But you know, it’s almost like the old saying about living in a very laid back environment.  “It will make you live longer… or at least feel like it.”
When we think about moving back to California, there’s a sense of nostalgia for the old places, old friends and things we used to do. That’s normal, but then when you consider it objectively, the nostalgia becomes more melancholy than reverie.  Things in the mind’s eye are as they were in 2002, when prices were already through the ceiling, traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area was atrocious, you had to stand in line or wait for everything.  Taking off the rose-colored glasses, it’s easy to see that the “good old days” might not have been as good as you remembered.  And time, having moved on for you, has moved on for others as well.  People change, places change, situations change, and few things that matter are the same as when you decided you had to move on.  In many ways, it’s a new place.  You’re not familiar to it, and it’s not really all that familiar to you.
But in 12 years, you build new relationships, new likes, new habits and new loves.  And while you never really intended it, this place, at one time strange to you has grown into something you call “home.”  It’s comfortable and now, while where you came from all those years ago might be fun to visit, you really can’t get that enthusiastic about going there for more than a few days visit.  “Home is where the heart is,” the old saying goes, and it’s pretty much the truth.  But homes change and the heart adapts until another old saying comes to mind.  “You can never go home again.”  And sometimes, you just don’t want to any more.

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