It was Thomas Wolfe who told us; “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and fame… back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
And yet, it’s back home we all go from time to time. Whether it’s physically or emotionally, we all travel to that place we once called home, that place where we grew up, that place that shaped who we are now.
I find going home a mixed blessing. I’m glad to be there and see that not too much has changed, and yet I find I’m glad I don’t live there because not too much has changed.
In reality, I’m the one who has done the changing. I used to look at the boundaries of this town as a prison; a straight, republican, evangelical prison. Now that I’ve escaped from the prison, I just see a cute little town where people tend to live in the past and don’t really like change all that much. I drive through, I take some pictures and I go to the snack bar that’s been in business for as long as I can remember and get myself a cheeseburger sub and a chocolate shake that both push the bounds of wonderfulness. I sit at one of the picnic tables at the snack bar, eat my sub, and watch the traffic go by remembering, with affection, the days of my youth sitting in the same spot, eating a cheeseburger sub.
I can now see this little town for what it is. It’s not my home anymore – it’s the place I grew up, and it’s the place where most of my biological family have always lived and are still living. Most of this family is comfortable there – it’s what they know – it’s all they want to know. I used to wonder why they didn’t want more from their lives until I finally understand that it’s not my place to wonder – it’s not my life.
This reality came to me while watching the movie “The Way.” The Father (Martin Sheen) tells his son (Emilio Estevez) that he was living the life he chose and the son looks at his Father and says: “You don’t choose a life Dad – You live one.” This line touched my soul, for there were decades that I wasn’t living my life. I had chosen a life searching for approval that would never come, and trying to be someone I could never, ever be. I started living my life when I came out, and I’ve been living it ever since. This is simply – My Life.
When I go to this little town in a week, it will be the first time I’m not going back angry or hurt or wanting to settle a score of some kind. It just doesn’t matter anymore. At 60, I honestly don’t care what the people in that little town think of me. You don’t want to talk to me because I’m a Lesbian (and you must whisper the word – Lesbian)? Then don’t talk to me. You don’t want to talk to me because of some dumb-ass rumor or gossip? That works for me, don’t talk. Life is just too short.
Wanting to go “home” is overrated. It’s my experience that we all carry our “home” within us. We tend to make our lives far more complicated than need be. The simple fact is this: If we believe something to be so – it is.
Go and live your life.