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?