Reub's journey

06 September 2010

Going home

You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood...back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame...back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.
Thomas Wolfe

It has been a week since I returned from a trip home to Wisconsin, the place where I grew up.

I had feared this trip. Estrangements within the family have not made it seem a welcoming place and topics of conversation must be carefully chosen so as to avoid those two bugaboos, politics and religion. There were even ominous road barriers up, causing my feelings of dread to increase as the airport shuttle neared my mother's house.

But I needn't have worried so much. After all, Wisconsin in the summer is a beautiful place: the fields covered in morning dew...

...and the cone flowers in my mother's yard reminding me of the particular attraction of this place. The long and untroubled childhood that I spent there is mostly a foggy recollection now, but when I pay a visit, bits and pieces of memories come to the surface as if stirred up from the bottom of a pool.

Despite the changes that Time has brought, there is a familiarity. Although I have no desire to be the same person who left this place decades ago, I will always maintain a connection to it. How odd. It's kind of like the old salmon in the rivers of the Northwest, returning afters years away and realizing "Why yes, I do recognize this pile of pebbles."

There is a sweetness and a sadness to it.

The emptiness to the right of this old shed breaks my heart every time I look there, for this was where the barn was, that fragrant warm place filled with hay and cattle, chickens, and kittens. It was torn down a few years ago, the weathered gray boards carried off by somebody who sells them on the internet.

The Family Barn, watercolor by Kerry Bliss, 2004

But that is what happens, isn't it? Things don't last, everything has a lifetime of its own; it's the way of the world.


  1. Yours is the second post I've ready today about change. Your photos made me feel lonely but I really like your artwork at the end. It is gorgeous.

  2. Going home after many years away is very much a double-edged sword. There's the nostalgia for things past and the reality of today to face up to.

    Home is what we carry with us, because 'home' as we knew it, no longer exists.


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