Why We Can Never Go Home Again!


oLD HOUSE IMAGEWhen I refer to Going Home, I am not speaking of the physical act of going back to a point in time. Rather, the metaphorical sense of going back into one’s life history. We all feel the urge to daydream about our tender years. Back to high school or college; perhaps, to old relationships we once felt were unique to us, alone.

In school, most of us long to have as many friends as possible. Yet, before we knew it and, far too soon, we found ourselves living in the adult world.

With few exceptions, many good friends rapidly fell by the wayside. We simply grew apart; forced to get on with life. I’ve discovered, to my chagrin, that those with whom we once shared so much, now barely remember my name. I offer three examples, which have left me quite saddened.

In 1990, I ran into an old coworker who now owned a business in Oakland. I asked if he knew what had become of my old buddy, Loren. He told me that he’d died of alcoholism back in the ‘80s. That was not unexpected, as we covered a lot of territory back in the day. Most of the time, his eyes were as glazed-over as mine.

One day, not long ago, I decided to determine if, and when, he’d died. To my surprise, he was alive and living in my city. I immediately shot off a letter. A week later, I received a phone call; “Bob, this is Loren.” It was a shock, since I thought it was someone else with the same name.

Before long, we were talking about old times over coffee, on my back deck. It had been fifty years since we’d seen each other.  For two hours, we caught up on old times. He ended by saying that his son had been killed twenty-five years previous. There were so many memories. As he left he said, “We’ve got to do this again.” That made me happy.

Eighteen months later, he got back to me, stating that he’d like my wife and me to come to dinner at his house. We had a horrible cell phone connection. Half his words had to be repeated. Soon, I heard a beeping on my end and I said, “Loren, I have to go. I think my phone is about to die.” He replied irately, “Okay, BOB! I didn’t hear from him about our dinner date, so I wrote another letter. In it, I apologized for our phone problems and indicated that, during our cell call, I wasn’t sure if he was going to call me or if I was to call him.

 There’s been no reply to my letter. How does one become upset over a bad phone connection? Could it be old age, or one too many unpleasant experiences that solidifies such a high degree of insensitivity? What combination of events causes one to build their emotional house on sand? I can’t answer that, but I’ve found that it prevents one from ever going home again!

Many years ago, I dated an attractive, intelligent woman. It lasted for three years. We really cared for one another, but her ultra-socialist beliefs seemed to grow more intense by the week. It eventually forced me to throw in the towel. It was time for me to move on. That was in the early 1970s. We stayed in touch for more than forty years; an email here, a phone call there.

In one of my books, I wrote about a lifetime of learning from the twenty or so women I’ve known along the way. After I sent a happy birthday messages this past January, she has not responded. Was it because I used her middle name, Michelle, in that book? Having used pseudonyms for all the women, no one could know I was referring to her. Who knows? Yet, there’s an deep emptiness when one learns that it’s all but impossible to go home again!

The third person about whom I write is Joyce. In Kindergarten, we collected leaves and colored their outlines. In Fourth grade, we played marbles in the dirt and Jacks on the teacher’s desk. There were only twelve kids in our class in a two-room schoolhouse. With two grades on each side of a partition, we all knew each other very well.

Our Sixth-grade class went on a school trip to New York City on 12 May 1950. Upon our return later that evening, I was seriously injured by a car, passing our bus. It was dark, and I was walking between two groups of kids. Joyce was one of the kids who later wrote a short description of that scene for investigators.

Faster than the Galloping Ghost’s speed record, we’d worked our way through high school. In my yearbook, Joyce wrote, “Always remember the fun we had in grammar school.”  We’d had a ton of fun riding the school bus each day. On what was then a small, grassy field, we played dodge ball, baseball and tag. And, who can forget those awesome snowball fights?

Not long ago, I wrote to Joyce, wondering if she had any additional memories of the events surrounding my accident. Though I recall her being on the class trip, she couldn’t remember any part of it.

My letter wasn’t answered for more than three months. Not long after receiving her letter, I wrote again, trying to refresh her memory. I also wrote how sad it was to see many of our original class had died: Pete, Susan, Gail, Barbara, Jenny, Flo, Paula, even my brother, Richie. I stated that there are only three of us left. To date, there has been no response to that letter.

In her first response, she stated that her husband had died about four years earlier. I wonder if she may be thinking that, after all these years, I have an interest in her. Stupid, I know, but it’s better than the alternative of feeling that we can never go home again!

Is it possible that my old friends have too much on our plate? Is it the aches and pains of old age; has trust succumbed to distrust; or is it just that loss doesn’t affect us the way it once did? Worse, is some level of dementia melting away all those wonderful memories?

Are people so used to being alone that they have become jaded to the world around them? My desire to reach out is a blessing, but it is also a curse—as you can tell.

Whether it’s an old drinking buddy and all-around pal, an old girlfriend who always stayed in touch through good times and bad, or a school mate who could make me laugh during our tender years, I’ve discovered that we really cannot go home again! 

Casino Danova – 5 August 2018


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