Carnes: Yes, you can go home again
There’s an old adage (they’re all old, I suppose) taken from a Thomas Wolfe novel published posthumously over 80 years ago claiming, “You can never go home again.”
It’s generally accepted to imply how rose-colored nostalgia limits how we view the past, especially when associated with childhood homes, neighborhoods, family, friends and so on.
A recent trip back to the stomping grounds of my youth in North Dallas caused me to reflect that yes, you can indeed return home again, it just depends upon how one defines “home” and what their expectations are when the realities of time are factored into the equation.
I’ve lived in the Happy Valley bubble — from Vail to Minturn to Avon to Edwards and back to Avon — for 38 years, and certainly consider it home after raising three boys with two wives (not at the same time); but in the proper frame of mind when visiting other places I’ve called home, the same mentality can be just as applicable.
It simply needs a little adjustment from time to time and place to place.
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The North Dallas bubble of my childhood is still bordered by the same streets, the streets have the same names, the same upscale shopping areas are still selling overpriced goods and a handful of friends along with a plethora of family still roam the neighborhoods.
Sure, half the houses have been torn down and rebuilt with mini-mansions, the stores have changed names and become even more upscale (did not think such a feat was possible), there’s a few tall buildings that weren’t there before, and the traffic has at least doubled, but to me it is still home, and in a way I feel it always will be.
In my late teens we moved to a tiny farm and ranching community south of Dallas, and although I only lived there a few years, I made — and still have — a lifetime of friendships from a town that I also call home whenever I visit.
But now, and probably until the end of my time with a heartbeat, I will always refer to Vail and the surrounding area as my home.
So what exactly qualifies as “home?”
Philosophical types say home is where the heart is.
Wanderers say it is where you lay your head at night.
Deep thinkers say home is simply a state of mind, not a geographical location on a map.
People like me sometimes think, “Hey, it’s where I keep all of my stuff, duh.”
But at this point in my life I am convinced the idiom is not the least bit valid and “home” belongs in the “all of the above” category, but will always vary from person to person depending upon their respective stage in life.
As I write this from a Dallas hotel looking out over the home neighborhood of my childhood (we had to switch rooms twice to have the correct view), western Eagle County is on fire once again, and I fear for my friends … back home.
And I’m ready to be home again.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.