I guess you can go home again…and a lot of people seem to be doing it.
Recently, I stumbled across a popular magazine that’s been around for quite some time now. It’s called “The Good Old Days Magazine.” I heard about it from a colleague in one of my writing groups. It got me to thinking about the proliferation of media avenues recently created to help us return to our past or at least explore what really happened in those years gone by. This ability to revisit ones past has surfaced in a number of different venues.
It’s not just one silly magazine. There are several more that just focus on the 30s, 40s and 50s. Then there is the History Channel, the numerous historical magazines at Barnes & Noble and on-line. There is Ancestry.com and numerous other web sites devoted to helping us track down our past relatives, countries of origin and other off-hand tidbits just to liven up our search. There are also web sites that cover just about every historical event, milestone, personalities, monuments, landmarks, etc in the history of mankind.
On a more personal level for me, there’s a new Facebook page entitled ‘Old Saint Paul.’ Members of this site reminisce about their experiences growing up in Saint Paul. Similar Facebook pages exist for ‘OldMinneapolis’ and many other neighborhoods and suburbs in and around the Twin Cities.
Maybe in its proper context ‘going back home’ is really a metaphor for self-discovery. For unpacking that traveling bag of life experiences that you’ve been toting around for years. It means rummaging through those artifacts of your life that you left behind in old photos, letters, scrapbooks, journals, yearbooks and family mementos. It’s going back to see who you were, what you were, where you were and how far you’ve come. It’s perusing the past all the while keeping your feet firmly planted in the present. It’s imagining ‘what if’ when it’s safe to do so. And accepting the loss of friends, associates, events, people, places and things that are no longer a part of your life. It’s seeing past lovers for what they were; the good, the real and thus the inevitable. It’s taking past baggage and putting it on the shelf to stay there until you die and it doesn’t matter anymore.
It’s a return to your roots. And if you have no roots, it’s a look back at when things started to matter in your life. When events began to register in your brain and got lodged there. It’s pushing past the ambiguity and cobwebs and jump-starting that memory motor so you can troll back through those calm waters of past experiences to look and listen and observe with fresh eyes what you never saw before.
For me it’s a vicarious journey back to my roots through the recent resurgence of folk music, poetry, coffee houses, and salons. ‘Going back home’ is a metaphorical return to Dinky Town and the West Bank and the numerous rundown haunts there…if only in my mind. It’s visiting the Blind Lemon in Berkeley, the Gas House in L.A. and the Drinking Gourd in San Francisco; famous coffee houses I never knew about. It’s a trip to Greenwich Village even though I’d never been there before.
Those memory trips sometimes reveal back stories to past relationships and answer that tantalizing question ‘what if.’ There seem to be enough curtains pulled back to keep pushing forward on tired feet but fueled by an ever-inquiring mind.
It’s blogging about my past and throwing in current events to shake up the mix. It’s writing novels, plays and screenplays. It’s drawing from a rambling road of starts and stops, attempts and failures and a few successes. It’s being a cowboy again, a landlord, and a young man earning his sea legs on a tapestry of prairie lands, looming mountains and spent expectations.
It’s going back to what I never saw and seeing how far I’ve come. It’s accepting the past while embracing what the future might hold. It’s all that and nothing more. A way to spend some time feeling good about what was and accepting what wasn’t. This is what I’ve become. That can’t be changed.
In the end, it’s the satisfaction of being able to simply say, “It’s all good.”