You Can Never Go Home Again  

Posted by Brock Booher

Growing up in a big family we had one black-and-white TV, and limited space on the couch. If you got up to go to the bathroom you had to yell, “Seat back!” or when you returned you would find a brother or sister sitting comfortably in your coveted spot. It was our way of laying claim to our place in the family.

“How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. You can never go home again.” (James Agee; “A Death in the Family”)

It is an adage that rings true over an over again. As soon as we cross the childhood threshold in search of our own life, we are forever changed. Our childhood home changes in our absence, and can never be reclaimed.

I recently enjoyed an overnight visit with my parents who still live on the family farm in Kentucky. Amid the discussion of kids, good books, and politics, I felt the usual nagging regret that the choices I made have led me far away from my parents. I mean that in a geographical sense not an emotional one, but sometimes one follows the other.

My parents and I have managed to stay quite close emotionally over the years and across many miles of road and sky, but I can’t help but feel a sense of loss when I let my mind wonder about what might have been - If only I lived closer… Interestingly enough, only two of my parents’ ten children still live nearby. The rest, like me, charted courses and made decisions that took us to far-away (and sometimes strange) places.

What made us all seek new horizons? For starters, we all got luggage as a graduation present. It was their way of nudging, or pushing, us out of the nest. The luggage symbolized our independence and encouraged us to seek new horizons. When I returned home after a lengthy stay in South America, my parents treated me differently. I was no longer a child, and although many unspoken expectations remained in place, a sense of freedom and independence was also prevalent. I could never go home again. It was time to make a home of my own, and I had been empowered and encouraged to do so.

I move forward in life not because I am fleeing from my past and all that it represents, but because I am grounded in it and all its good teachings. I don’t seek new horizons because old horizons have grown stale, but because they have motivated me onward in their grace and beauty. My parents taught me that life is a journey, not a destination. My journey has been good, and I don’t wish to hasten down the highway because the scenery wasn’t good behind me, but because it was so good that it made me anticipate the journey ahead with greater desire.

We are a family of strong-willed individuals, who, happily and surprisingly, have managed to stay close across the miles. Maybe you can’t go home again, but you don’t have to be a stranger to your family either. Just yell, “Seat back!” on your way out the door to save your spot.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at Wednesday, January 20, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Uncle Brock,
This blog addressed some of the things that I've been thinking about for a while with the course of changes in life. I really enjoyed reading it and thinking about the application for my life of certain principles upon which you expound. Thanks for sharing. I hope your novel is coming along. :)

January 27, 2010 at 1:58 AM

We have been spreading the word among the local folks about what a great writer you are and shall be.

January 28, 2010 at 9:57 AM

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