Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Everything is relative. Even home.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2012 by Jim Murphy

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, 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.”   Thomas Wolfe.

Like most people my age, I had a childhood. It was a nice childhood I guess. Nothing too spectacular. Being a student of history, I feel fortunate in that things could have been worse. I’m happy as well that I was not party to one of the “starving people in China” lessons from my parents. In a way I am a little surprised. My father tells stories of he and his brothers, growing up in St. Louis, playing in the alleys with old, torn, hand me down clothes. There were times that his mother would have to drop them off at a nearby orphanage until work or money presented itself again and were taken back home. I have wondered if they thought it could have been worse.

One thing I like to say is, “Everything is relative”. At times, I dread the concept. It seems that from my 20s, the older I get, the harder it is reconcile reality with my past. I often wonder if this is a common problem with people. I have always been very sensitive to things that play havoc on your emotional sensibilities but I would doubt that I’m an isolated case. I had very stable surroundings when I was growing up. When I was three, my parents moved to a slightly larger house and we stayed there till I was twelve. We kept the house and rented it out for a few years until my sister moved in. In 1990 when my son was born, my sister relocated her growing family to the country and my parents invited me to move in. What Joy! I loved that house. Upon moving in, I made my plans. The house needed a lot of work and it would be reincarnated in my memories of the past. Slowly it would encompass everything that I remembered it was and it did but not as quickly as I had hoped.

Eventually things were completed and through the following years, I was really feeling at home. I enjoyed the fall colours of the poplar tree I planted when my son was a year old. The quiet of the day and the sounds of crickets, frogs and freight trains through the neighboring woods that lulled you to sleep in the evening. It was great to be home again. Unfortunately, some things have a hard time remaining as they should be. My son needed instruction that was not available in our school district, I remarried and was soon to expect our next child. It was hard but the decision was made that we needed to relocate for my Son. The house was sold, another one purchased  and the truck packed.  I pulled out of the drive and never looked back; never expecting to see my home again.

Through the years, many asked if I had gone back to the old neighborhood. The answer was always no. They asked if I had plans to do so. “NO”, was always the reply. I was in a state of fear. A feeling of dread hung heavy over my head. I feared what I would find. I feared  that it would not meet my expectations. Then one day, my father called and asked me if I had seen the old house. The schoolhouse directly behind the back yard had been closed and rebuilt down the street. An access road had been cut through the old schoolyard behind the house and he had taken a quick peek at the house as he drove by. He began telling me about all these….things. Things I did not want to know. Eventually I would succumb to curiosity and I made a visit to the old homestead.

With the car parked in along the road. I ran my foot through the sand that has collected in that spot since I was little. After a big rain, a large puddle would collect and I would rush with my toys and feel the heat of the day in the water while navies battled each other. Walking to the drive, the yard looked dry and brittle. The trees were gone. The old oak by the drive, laden with mistletoe for our Christmases and baring the 4029 my father carefully cut with his hatchet. Gone was the old dogwood that was the home of the owl my sister loved to listen to. The poplar was gone as well. After fifteen years the leaves would have been quite large and colourful. Walking to the rear, over the fallen gate, I see  the rotting remains of the deck I had built. Many hours went into its perfect utilitarian design. I dared not risk going up the steps. The creek that ran along side the back fence was covered over. Many a day were spent catching crawdads with friends and  having dirt clod fights with my sister while my mother watched us from her vegetable garden. It was obvious that the house was deserted. The air unit had been striped of its precious metals.

I walked back to the car, wondering what compelled me to revisit this place. I drove away convinced that I should not have done so. Until that day I returned to my old home, I could go home again. To memories safe within my mind, protected by time and separated from reality.

UPDATE:

Its been awhile since I first wrote of my quaint little visit to my child hood home. Since that time, I have given it a good deal of thought, and through some internal prioritizing, I have in its entirety, come to terms with my new realities.

Firstly, I have come to accept that the world I live in now is not quite like the world of before. As when I was a child, I and others did not have to be so concerned with constant, erratic and seemingly instantaneous change and its effects that we have to now. Although most have become comfortable with their new digital overlords, there are many that have not. As we all know, the world does usually  revolve around the minority.

Secondly, the current state of affairs in the world as a whole has made me think more deeply about and prepare for, a future for others who depend on me. These thoughts don’t hinge the primarily on political currents in the US today; although I am full of opinion which will eventually out itself in the future.

Lastly, I have made the decision that, in the scheme of things, it’s just not that important. I have come to realize that in this particular time we live in, those who value the important, meaningful things in life, constant attention to what happens around you is paramount. I certainly don’t see myself forgoing the niceties of life but not to the point of ignorance and  I will constantly observe the world and those who endeavor  to change it.

It is my intention to be more prolific with my writing on current events, their effects and my humble opinions. Perhaps you will read something life changing but all I can hope for is to provide another perspective.