After All These Years (Or, You Can Go Home Again)

This Friday, I’ll be taking a little trip.  I’ll be hopping in the car, driving west through the state of Vermont, then crossing into New York State, where I’ll head south for fifty miles and then travel west, across much of the Empire State, until I reach the Rochester area, where I’ll spend the Labor Day weekend with my family.  It’s a tradition that goes back decades.  Every year, for Labor Day, I head back home, to the town, to the house where I grew up.

 

I’ve lived in Vermont for two decades now, but I grew up in Rochester.  I never moved growing up–my parents bought their house before I was born, and kept it through the decades.  When I go back now, the house feels both different and the same.  My mother is no longer there, passing in 2018, and the absence is palpable when I’m there.  But the memories are alive and close in the old house, swirling around like pixie dust.

 

One thing I enjoy tremendously about the trip back home is, well, the trip.  Late summer is my favorite time of the year in the northeastern US, and the landscape in Vermont and upstate New York is especially beautiful this time of the year.  Summer crops are ripe and lush, the corn taller than me.  Trees are still mostly summer green, though a few hints of fall can be observed, some of the leaves getting a jump-start on the autumn color show to come.  Fields are green and vibrant.  Late-summer flowers dot the roadsides–goldenrod bobbing and dancing in the breeze.  If I stop in a Vermont town early on the drive, I might smell woodsmoke in the distance, lingering in the mountain air, the scent musky and invigorating.

 

Then, into New York State, I drive, listening to an audio recording of The Illustrated Man, Bradbury’s words taking me back, back, the poetry of the phrasing sublime in the late summer sun.  The towns I pass through in eastern upstate New York, in the foothills of the Adirondacks and then, farther west, the green, lush Mohawk Valley, are old, at times run-down, but magical–at least to me.  Storefronts a century and a half old line the main streets.  Stately old mansions, weather-beaten and often in need of repair, stand stoically and proudly along the way, like thoughtful old philosophers pondering the meaning of life, repositories of countless memories in their ancient walls.

 

And as I draw closer to Rochester, the hours melting away as I continue west, as the terrain flattens out into the farm country of western New York, my own memories beckon.  Heading home.  The same house.  Family.  Friends that date back to a different century.  Indeed, a few of the inspirations for The Eye-Dancers will be there, and we’ll get together for a while, and we’ll remember.  We are grown men now, from the perspective of our childhood selves in the 1980s impossibly old, and yet . . . when we get together, it feels like 1988 again.  The vibes are the same.  The laughter is the same.  It is good, even if it’s only for just a single weekend.  Maybe that’s as it should be.  Special things, by their very nature, must remain rare.

 

Of course, when I return to Vermont after the trip, I’ll need to dig back in to work and responsibilities and the rhythms of everyday life.  But for a couple of days this weekend, I’ll be entering the past, as if starring in a Twilight Zone episode.  Revisiting.  Going back.  Remembering.  Reliving.

 

It is good.  I look forward to it.  And maybe, while I’m there, I’ll create a new memory to look back on in future years.  To blend and merge with the old.

Going home again won’t always be possible.  There will come a day when the old house belongs to a different family, when no familiar face is left in the neighborhood I grew up in.  But that day is not yet here.

And for that I am grateful.

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

 

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelwolfelives
    Aug 31, 2022 @ 15:27:05

    So nostalgic and thought provoking. Savor it while you can…and when, as you say, someday the house will change hands and the people will be no more, remember…once they were here.

    Reply

  2. Patrice
    Aug 31, 2022 @ 16:04:21

    May your trip back home be wonderful and your brief stay in the past be lovely >3

    Reply

  3. foodinbooks
    Aug 31, 2022 @ 18:23:15

    Enjoy your trip home and the trip down memory lane!

    Reply

  4. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
    Sep 01, 2022 @ 03:24:59

    Safe travels 🙂

    Reply

  5. stormy1812
    Sep 02, 2022 @ 21:51:01

    I’ve always wanted to get out that way for fall colors…maybe one day. I hope you have a lovely visit! Literally pausing time may not be possible but that momentary stillness can be nice. 🙂

    Reply

  6. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
    Sep 03, 2022 @ 14:10:20

    What a beautiful drive you’ve described. By now you’re into the weekend with family and friends. Have a fabulous time, Mike.

    Reply

  7. Carol Balawyder
    Sep 07, 2022 @ 00:35:23

    Except for the sad part about your mom no longer being home, this sounds like an enjoyable trip.

    Reply

  8. Lyn
    Sep 07, 2022 @ 08:36:14

    Travel safely. Visit in joy. Return rejuvenated.
    P/S When is the next book coming out, my friend?

    Reply

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