Sometimes You CAN Go Home Again

Maybe it all depends on how you define home.

The high school I graduated from in North Miami, Florida, has been torn down and the areas around the original site are now a blight.  The old neighborhoods are unrecognizable and some are even dangerous. Very little is the way it was when we were young.

Still, this past weekend 50 of my high school friends gathered on a Florida beach to celebrate a shared milestone birthday. Former classmates traveled from Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois . . . and of course, every corner of Florida, to be together. It was important.

For us, it’s not the geographical location that matters, it’s the community we have built with each other that we return to again and again.

That undercurrent of the familiar, the recognition of a shared past from a uniquely formative time in our lives – that is what feels like home.

Many of those who come to these events are people I hardly remember from my high school years. We didn’t hang out. We weren’t necessarily in the same clubs or activities. We didn’t go to movies as a group, date each other, or apply to the same colleges.

And yet.

We are now siblings in a far-flung family. The same music thrums its sound track in our memories. At the mention of a particular teacher, we smile and nod knowingly, sometimes rolling our eyes. Someone talks about the street where their family used to live and we all picture the neighborhood as it was then, not in its present crumbling state.

Our shoulders sag spontaneously at the name of another of our classmates who has died. So many. So many, we incant.

Our lives all ripple outward from that shared beginning and now we fill in the blanks for each other, with news of the joyous arrival of children (and lately, grandchildren); the crushing loss of parents, spouses, and sadly, even beloved sons and daughters. Some of us have suffered the fracturing of one or more marriages, others the loss of health.

There are those who found their significance in career success, others who were marked by stunning loss. More than a few lived in a desperate silence that has finally been broken.

Comfort is there in the sharing of both the blessings and the burdens.

In the early days, those whose lives were in shambles opted out of these gatherings. (Who comes to a high school reunion on the heels of a divorce, job loss, or recent release from prison?)  I admit I missed a few because of my own shame.

But now, we’re more comfortable with our shortcomings and failures.

We are no longer defined by who we were at 17, even in the eyes of those who were 17 with us.

We’re a little battle-worn and weary, a bit frayed around the edges but softer at our center. We’re inclined to care much and judge little. We love more readily these days.

For the time we’re together, we are a community experiencing life in its fullness. We are back “home”.

We yearn for this: for love that lasts, for long-term friends who never stop caring, for togetherness that extends beyond a weekend.

So . . . with apologies to Thomas Wolfe and Max Dubinsky, I think sometimes we CAN go home again, if only for a little while and perhaps mostly in our hearts.

It feels good.

How do you define home? What would it be like for you to go back there?

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

10 thoughts on “Sometimes You CAN Go Home Again”

  1. I’ve moved a lot in my years, and so I have resolved wherever I am home. I do go back to visit my mom in my “hometown” some 4000 kms away, but it really doesn’t feel like home anymore. All the same, I have recently renewed an acquaintance with an old high school friend, and we enjoy discussing both the good old days and what is new when we get together. Home is where I am at peace.

  2. Dear Diane Just read this wonderful piece while waiting in the msp airport for my high school friend to pick me up for a day of visiting. I’m going to share your thoughts with her as I know she will appreciate as I do your thoughtful and poignant reflection. Jean is my best friend for now 52 years and these visits are life giving for both of us. I know you truly understand Take care now. Have a very good day and thank you for capturing so well thoughts that are all too often locked inside of me It will be a special joy to see you on Sunday With love from frigid Mn Marge

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Glad you enjoyed it and found so much to relate to, Marge. Long-term friendships connect us to each other in a unique way – they remind us of our humanity and our deep need for community. Enjoy your time with Jean.

  3. I’ts unlikely I’ll ever return to my ‘hometown’ – Too many scars from there.
    I’ve lived in our current house now over 20 years and it still doesn’t feel like home.

    No….I’m restless -restless for my home with Jesus.

      1. Thanks for coming over to visit, Diane. I appreciate your curiosity and compassion.

        Opening up and telling my story through my blog has been very healing for me and I have ‘met’ so many amazing and incredible people through the blogging world. Like you!

        Interestingly, telling my story seems to have touched many others who have suffered difficult pasts, too. We have the ability to help each other heal and I am blessed to be a part of this unique and incredible journey.

Your feedback is welcome!