You Can’t Go Home Again, But You Can Remember.

The author’s grandfather, circa 1934

One of life’s little lessons is the fact that you cannot go home again. By that, I mean that home is now elusive, a period in time cemented firmly in your memory, vivid and fresh as it was back then. As the years pass, while the memories remain, you change.Your sense of idealism, rampant in youth, has now been tempered with far larger doses of reality, often unkind truths that has slowly eroded the idealism. Coupled with that your transition from useful unemployment to providing for your adult family, the reality of what home represented has now been changed by experience and age.

This is not to say that home does not exist. It just no longer exists in the way that it existed before. You may be able to revisit the physicality of youth, the home in which you grew up, look at the neighbors house and remember how are used to look, but upon entering your home that dominated your childhood, it feels so very different, even if your parents still live there.

There was a time when home represented a safety net, that no matter how bad the world might be, your parents would protect you, certainly emotionally. Later in life, going back home, the dynamic is totally different. Your parents have passed through many years without young children living there—even if you brought them grandchildren. And your needs of them are no longer for protection or comfort, but rather as family to whom you feel emotionally bound and responsible for. Live long enough and, as the saying goes, you become your parents’ parent.

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. It is important for the future that you remember the past, however it is not important that you hold onto the past because that would prevent you from finding your own future. Part of the experience of life and getting older is that you recognize each moment in your life as a box holding certain treasures that are protected through time. These cannot be destroyed, remain fresh as they were back then, and important to keep you grounded, appreciative of life, and in a sense offering you a foundation upon which to build a future.

While you might not be able to go home again in the same sense as it felt in your youth, you do possess the ability to reimagine home using the strength of the memories and emotions of the past in order to build new homes for your children.