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Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

You Can Never Go Home (Final PLT for me)

Wishing

(click to enlarge)

I used this pic about a year ago, but I had to include it for my final Project Looking Through post. Anybody else is welcome to join in by scrolling down to the post before this one (or by clicking to go there). Thanks for being a part!

Or, join the talented Anna’s Project Green.

Now, if you’re not here just for a photo project, read on for our regularly scheduled programming…

You can never go home.

I have heard that it’s true not because home changes, but the person changes. Maybe home used to mean living carefree under the parents’ roof, and seen through adult eyes the hometown looks like any other place — it has its upper crust, its middle class, and its poverty. It has its drug problem. Maybe a favorite hangout closed its doors. If it didn’t, maybe it’s no longer an option because where and when to spend money have become top concerns.

For us, however, our trip last week was bittersweet for different reasons. We arrived in northwest Arkansas in 1999 as adults, and we left in 2004 as parents. It was a fast-growing area, and less than a year before we left, rumor had it Wal-Mart mandated that all vendors hoping to maintain a relationship staff an office within 30 miles of its home office.

We returned last week to find that all of our old favorite restaurants were still open, several had come and gone, and lots of new ones stood as shining beacons of urban sprawl in an historically rural area. Most of all, though, there were a lot more people.

In the five years we were there, we lived in a rent house and then two homes we purchased. The rent house still was in good shape, and the neighborhood looked just as nice as the day we left it. The other homes, however, had not fared as well.

In Bentonville, where we purchased our first home that never had been on wheels, we saw a neighborhood characterized by unkempt lawns and privacy fences in disrepair. It had started out a decent, clean place for those needing (relatively) affordable housing, but has become yet another casualty in the area’s building boom.

Next up was our wonderful location just up the road in Bella Vista, the first place our son called home. Mostly a retirement village, but undergoing a rapid influx of young families, the community seems to have forgot about our old street. We drove down the steep road hoping to find our old place had been maintained, but instead found peeling paint on the eaves and one of the window shutters dangling askew. The deck, which we had built in 2003, still looked fine, and its wooded view had not changed.

Perhaps most disheartening were the boarded-up windows on the hospital where Benjamin was born. We surmised it must have closed in the wake of the large, new Mercy Medical Center that opened across town in the past few years.

I considered all the disappointing scenes we had seen. “Well, maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t bring Benjamin on this trip,” I said.

“He wouldn’t have known the difference,” Shannon said.

But we knew, so I was glad anyway.

Because of all that and other factors, we never got homesick. Despite the disconnect between our memories and our new perceptions, the rest of the trip went great. In fact, Thursday night was downright notable, but that’s for a later post.

Have you found that you can never go home?

14 Responses to You Can Never Go Home (Final PLT for me)

  1. Ahhhhhh noooooo…. NOT the dreaded FINAL one! Awwwwwww shucks. *hangs head* I was really enjoying this one! I hope you guys start another one soon!

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  2. When I was a child my home town was small and everybody knew everybody else. The principal of my elementary school had been a student in the one room school house where my grandmother taught. Now it is a huge city. There are dozes of elementary schools and three high schools. A hospital sits on our baseball diamond. The orchard across the street from my childhood home is now an apartment complex. The woods behind the school have been tamed and groomed into a city park. Main Street still houses quaint, original shops, but now the prices are sky high and there’s a roof over the street — it’s become a walking mall. My little home town has transformed itself into a trendy resort, complete with trendy prices. I can’t afford to go back.

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  3. It’s true… you can never go home. Too bad Looking Through is officially ending, it was fun, thanks for that. I think I’ve made the transition to Green fairly well, though. Terrific shot and post!

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  4. Well, I still live in my hometown, however last year I took my son down south to a place (Norcross, GA area) I spent a lot of time in while working for my last company. I wanted to take him to my favorite restaurant. Closed. I wanted to take him to my favorite bar. Closed. I wanted to take him to the local Dave & Busters (we don’t have them up here) and luckily it was open. I was 1 for 3.
    I was pretty disheartened when I saw my favorite restaurant was boarded up.
    Oh, then I went to take him to “Underground Atlanta”, and it was completely changed. Dante’s Down the Hatch was closed. Most of the stores had closed or changed. The Coke Museum had moved across town to near CNN.
    Oh well…. we had fun anyways.

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  5. Oh yes Mark!

    I lived in the same place for 15 years…then John and I got married (he wasnt from there) and we moved away to start our life together. Funny how when we go back now, I just can’t ever picture myself living there. Maybe it’s the memories of being a completely different person then. I hardly can remember that girl…and that’s OK with me. I am glad to have grown up….well, at least a little!

    Anyway, love the post!

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  6. I grew up in a semi-rural tourist trap area in central Missouri where my mom still lives. It’s wonderful to go back there and sit on her porch, surounded by trees and creeks, but venturing out and about rarely enduces nostalgia. Every year that goes by, I just have less and less in common with the folks down there. And they haven’t changed…which is perhaps the problem that I was unable to see when that was th eonly place I’d ever lived. I once believed I wanted to return there to raise my kids. Now I kinda wonder how I turned out sane ;)

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  7. ‘s funny. When I return to the places where I’ve lived as an adult, I have the same experiences you and Shannon did. They’ve changed, I’ve changed, or my tastes have changed. Sometimes that perception is assisted by the fact that the signs in the neighborhood are no longer in English! But when I return to the place (where you and Shannon just were) where I spent my formative years (oh so long ago), there’s enough remaining of the terrain and nostalgia that I still have the feeling that this is “home.”

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  8. Mark,

    That was a fun project, I looking forward to the next one!
    I posted a second and final picture on my blog…

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  9. Mark, I remember that top pic from the first time you posted it. I think it’s one of my favourites (of yours, anyway). :)

    For me, I still AM home. I’ve been in the same area for going on 30 years now. I was not quite four years old when we moved west from Ontario, so even though that’s home to my folks, it’s still just the place where all my relatives live. Growing up so far from pretty much anybody I was related to had its pros and cons, so in that way you could say that, no, I can’t really go home. Heading back east is only ever a vacation to see family, but since we’ve done it so many times, there are always sites I want to re-visit and changes even I notice after a few years away.

    I can relate to you and Shannon seeing so many (lamentable) changes in your visit back home. Thankfully, with you and Shan and Ben, it’s much more about where you make your home.

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  10. So sad that it’s over already. It feels like Project Looking Through just began. I still have a few more photos to post yet. I hope you don’t mind if I continue PLT for a few more days.

    Great photo btw!

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  11. The photo gave me chills, good chills, maybe they’re goosebumps!? Such a poignant, sweet image.

    thanks so much for having Project Looking Through and for all your kind comments over the past days.

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  12. What a sweet shot..says “I wanna swimmmm!”
    Thanks for hosting PLT, it’s really been fun. I too have one more to go so I’ll join the “too much of a good thing club”

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  13. I have loved this project so much! I have my final entry up. It’s Project Looking Through Meets Project Green!!

    Everyone’s so talented and I’ve loved going around, even if I couldn’t comment as much.

    Thanks again!!

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  14. Wow. What a post to read for tonight. We are about to move on from a town where I’ve raised my 3 children and really become an adult. I’m already homesick and I have yet to leave. My childhood home is very strange to go home to. Small town. It’s like visiting a little bubble where no one ever leaves. My dad always calls and says, “you remember x, well they are marrying y’s daughter z! When I was in school y told me. . . .” Everyone is connected. It’s charming but I’m so glad that my perspective is a little broader. It makes me love VISITING. Hopefully our next home will hold wonders that I can’t even dream of and our children will adjust swimmingly.
    I love your shot and it is very appropriately sad. Thanks for hosting.

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