Friday, March 4, 2011
"you can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, 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."
you can't go home again by thomas wolfe
musta been some 14 months or so after my latest retreat from there. i heard a song on a college station that sounded an awful lot like some local boys that used to play on my back deck for coors light and college girls. i laughed at the irony, but couldn't shake the feeling. i felt the humidity. the easy laughter. eating red beans and rice 4 days a week because it was cheap. honeysuckle growing up the side of the 92 year old house. bee's buzzing around the rotting apples on the ground from the crab apple tree. i went about my day, but couldn't shake it. kinda like waking up from a dream too soon, and you go back to sleep hoping to go back to that place. 48 hours later i quit my job. packed my old truck and drove up the grade back into the mountains.
it took me 3 days to get the mildew smell out of the air. another week to get the wood stove fired back up. 24 hours after arriving i had run north slope twice and soaked my legs in the davidson after each run. three weeks to get the weeds cleared out from around the blueberry bushes and harvest the figs. took me a week to get around to turning on the electricity...and that was just fine. i saw the sunset from the porch eating dinner for 3 weeks straight. i woke up and walked the perimeter of the property every morning for a month. took two days for the neighbors dog to come on over and find me...again, for the umpteenth time, and forgive me for leaving, again, for the umpteenth time.
in a place like this, folks pick up right where they left off. it's as if you never left. even to the point of remembering what you order at the local bakery. neighbors bring over canned veggies because they know you weren't around to put in your garden that year and confess to harvesting blueberries as if they had done something wrong...knowing it would have been far worse to let them fall to rot on the ground. screen doors. ceiling fans. mason jars of cold, sweet tea sweating in the afternoon heat. gossip about the carpetbaggers that have moved n'ta town, wondering if i'm gonna be the next one to sell...asking, without really, asking.
clouds around cold mountain. leaves rotting and falling. sourwood in the honey. flannel and sap from cut cords of wood, stacked, for a few winters off. jar of shine in the icebox. wanderlust starts to take hold. i plot, drawn away by a place inside me not nearly as strong as the one that always draws me back here. not nearly as satisfied with the simplicity as i once was. as they were.
i never intend on leaving, but i have never stayed. i know the neighbors dog is gone now. i have never been gone from there for this long. it wouldn't feel right to put somebody in that place. they wouldn't know it. they wouldn't feel it and too much would be too hard to explain to make it worth it. the yearn still returns for me, but the drive isn't as simple. maybe that's why i'm 3000 miles away from there, now. i meet folks from there from time and time and eventually we can't look at each other without feeling ashamed at how we left so easily. mere moments after it felt so good to talk about being from there and all the things we missed.
mistakes we knew we were making