You can’t go home again.
I write the cliché because I returned to my hometown last weekend to take one of my brothers out for his birthday.
We had a great lunch, hot beefs at the place where I used to bartend. The recipe hasn’t changed in 70 years. As we sat there waiting for lunch, I told the bartender that about 30 years ago on a slow afternoon, an older guy walked in and bought a beer. He asked if we still served hot beefs, like the kind we did in the 1950s. I served him a sandwich – on me – and asked what he thought. “Same hot beef,” he said, with a mouthful of tender meat.” I responded, “Yeah, probably the same cow.”
Now I was that older guy.
We drove around a little bit – it’s the first time, though, in recent visits where I didn’t get lost on the new highways around town.
My brother asked if I wanted to drive by the old family home.
I couldn’t do that.
But we drove down the main street, which has changed and stayed the same. I looked up to see the windows of my dad’s old law office.
We stopped at the Leinie Lodge where I don’t get points off even though I’m an inaugural member.
We drove through Irvine Park, our beautiful little reminder of the Northwoods before it was timbered (that’s a word up here).
The visit was beautiful and I’ll see my brother again soon. Thankfully, he’s patient with my humor.
For some reason, though, nostalgia makes me sad – and it shouldn’t.
I had a great life in my hometown and so many friends I can’t count. In fact we ran into an old friend at the bar. That only makes sense in that city.
I can’t be sad for what was once.
Only rejoice in those memories.
Because I returned home to Hayward, my newest and last city of residence, happy to be home.
Which is where I am.