Friday, July 24, 2015

You Can't Go Home Again

“Something has spoken to me in the night...and told me that I shall die, I know not where. Saying: "Death  is to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again

Two things happened.

One was that my stepson, Sasha, went back home to America to live with his father. I say home because Sasha has never thought of it as other than home, despite having left when he was ten and spent five years in Bali. Three-quarters Indonesian, Sasha was born in America, spent his formative years in America and is, quite simply, an American. Indonesia, the birthplace of his father and mother, was always a foreign land to him. The most that can be said is that he got used to it, more or less.

The first picture I saw on Facebook was of Sasha enjoying fiberoptic cable internet. The second was of Sasha holding an automatic rifle, surrounded by fully stocked gun racks. Both made me feel uneasy.

Arizona is where he lives now. The State of Hate, his father calls it. I wouldn’t know. I was there when I was five and all I remember is buying a little papoose doll from an old Indian woman. That was on the Navaho reservation. It must be different now. It could not have stayed the same these fifty-five years.

The second thing that happened is that I called my old home in Oregon this morning and talked to my son, Holden. I say “home”, but I suppose that by home I mean him, or just the fact of his presence where home used to be. There is no house anymore, no property, no parents and no relatives. And yet, when he describes what he has been doing, where he has been, I can picture the places more clearly than those beyond my own front door.

I’m looking at the present through eyes of the past and I’m not sure which place is the more real between the two. I’m listening to the familiar voice of my son on the phone as we speak of things that always were, always have been, always will be; and now, as I write this, I understand only myself, the words inside my head, whilst without, as dim as the darkness that has fallen, is the exclusive fluency of a chatter shared only by others. This is what we may call loneliness, in the purest sense. It is not intentional, it is not premeditated, it is not mitigable. It merely is. I must try very had to understand what should otherwise be easy. And, curiously, it occurs to me that when you can understand, it doesn’t matter, but when you can’t, it does.

Home. It has not been five years, but five hundred – a multitude of removals, surcease and separation, beginning, ending, thriving and dying. Time, like an atonal music, is a virtuoso of disarray which fervently awaits the comfort of silence.

Wolfe said it best, and in only five words. You can’t go home again.

Until you do.

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