Deep Roots, Far Reaching Branches
I've been in my hometown for the last full week. They say you can't go home again. I guess "they" is Thomas Wolfe, Chet Baker, and Steve Earle. And what "they" mean is that even if you go to the place of home, you've changed since you left (ideally), the people you left behind have adapted in your absence, and the place has either eroded or been built up, but probably also not been stagnant. It can feel nostalgic-yet-unrelatable.
Usually when I visit my hometown, there's some sense of familiarity and being cared for. But on this trip, everything seemed amiss. The BBQ from the cinder block joint up the street was cut all wrong, it was remarkably chilly in the armpit of the south, and Daddy and Granny were both missing from this world. I was the one handling all the paperwork, ordering people around, sorting all the details, doing the caring instead of being looked after. I had to get out and take a drive to find my bearings.
I escaped my grandfather's house to find my childhood memories in a place called Flat Rock Park. As I cruised the loop, I was visited by the angels of Georgia Red Clay, Pine Trees, and Lake Water, and was flooded with the memories of flinging persimmons, eating snow cones, and sliding down the slimy creek rocks on my butt in cut off blue jeans. I was grounded so deeply just seeing that dirt, exposed and eroding, and found that I also was fed by it and felt a full heart pounding inside my chest and welling up in my eyes. I felt my roots dig in. I felt my own outward reach lengthen. As I was taking in the emotional and spiritual nutrition that park was offering me, I was also able to find ways to continue moving, giving, and offering my own brand of loving tenderness, though I was thoroughly exhausted to my bones.
I can't see myself living in Columbus, Georgia ever again, but I'd be lying if I said there was nothing about it that I miss.
Check out "Hometown Blues" by Steve Earle: