Monday, July 20, 2009


They say you can't go home again. It's not true, of course, as evidenced by the massive numbers of travelers during the holiday season, many of whom are going home. On the other hand, "they" probably don't mean that literally. It's probably meant in some figurative sense, about how even though you can return to the place you once called home, once you've moved out and moved on, it's never quite the same. After all, living with your parents again as an adult with children of your own is far, far different from when you were growing up in their house.

There are other things in your past that you can't recapture either, and sometimes this has as much to do with our own personal journeys as it does with circumstances beyond our control. You can revisit your old elementary school, for example, but if they've torn down the playground where you used to dangle and swing, no amount of nostalgia is going to let you revisit that experience. Nor would it be the same, even if you could (I, for example, get dizzy a lot faster than I did when I was eight. Which takes a great deal of the fun out of the playground merry-go-round.)

You can wander around the old school, you can let your hands wander idly down the railing for the stairs that used to seem so much bigger to you, you can drive aimlessly around because what used to be a parking lot has been turned into a green space and you can't get there from here anymore... Okay, that last one was literal, not metaphorical in my case, but it works as a metaphor, too, I think.

I think some of the stories I've written are like that, too. I've come across some old short stories, and even an old MS that as I began to look through them I realized that whatever concept had motivated them in the first place, I couldn't go back and finish the story I had started writing all those years ago. It wasn't so much that the ideas were no good, though one or two of them I recognize now as being more than a little trite, a little too derivative, as it was that I'm just not the person who wrote them anymore.

If I sat down and finished the one or two of them that are there, mostly done, and ready to go, it would read as if two different authors had worked on it. I'm not even sure that, assuming I could recapture the voice that started those works, that I'd even want to. I can go back, start from the initial idea, and start the story over again, and there are one or two that I think are worth the effort... but that's like playing on the new playground equipment in your old park. It's the same spot, but a different experience.

And in some spots they make me wistful for the writer I was. He was more than bit naive, and certainly under-experienced, but like my school-age self there was this whole set of possibilities I saw out there at that age, and life and my writing career have taken a much different turn than I expected.

At least for now, because even though you can't go home again, with a little effort you can make a home of where you are.

1 comment:

Kmcelhinny said...

Or/And you can just look back and be proud of what you've accomplished when you were younger. Know that you were always on the right path with your writing and feel glad that even though you can't revive the old stories at least you had them in your head. :D

Nice job.