Moving out of my childhood home was a gradual process. I’m a gradual process person. Not cold turkey; a “weaner”, if you will. When things happen suddenly, I forget Douglas Adams’s best advice…. (Read: I panic.)
I get stuck in an odd state of shock only calculable as a sick ratio beyond my mathematical skills that involves variables such as “deer,” “headlights,” “fans” and lots and lots of “shit.” There’s something within that state of shock which is the quintessential form of denial. Like Pure Extract of Denial, if you will. It’s this core belief that somehow, somewhere deep within this giant cesspool of bullshit, there is a safe place. There is still somewhere where you can go where you float freely in some kind of womb-like structure. But that doesn’t really exist, does it? But were we ever to let go of this deep-seeded belief, we’d surely go insane. We have no choice. We must believe. (I think I’m on to something here, regarding the foundation of religion and other myth-making, but that’s really beyond the scope of my blogging escapades at 2.45 on a Friday afternoon.)
But, as Wolfe said, you can’t go home again. Home… most easily described as that simple structure in which we spent our formative years. Even though my parents moved out of my childhood home about four years ago, for the first little while, it still seemed somehow alive in my mind. Like it was still there, tucked away waiting for me, and one day I would be going back. I’m not sure when my subconscious thought this prodigal return might take place; perhaps as an old woman ready to die, like some frickin’ salmon.
But then I saw it. My old house in a state of decrepitude as it was in the middle of being demolished. I walked through the skeleton of my home. The walls were gone, the yard was a shithole, but there were still the floors and the ceiling: the smudges of paint on the wooden slats of my bedroom ceiling when I effed up majorly trying to paint my room when I was twelve; the bloodstains on the kitchen floor from my sister’s cockup with the glass door; the plastic garbage bag rack stuck to the never-finished wall of the laundry room; the hook screwed into the living room ceiling from which nothing ever hung; and the hand prints we set in the concrete my dad poured when he built an extension to the house with his bare hands. The spine of the house led me down the hallway I’d tread a million times. Every little detail is locked away in my memory.
But now it’s gone and another monstrosity stands in its place.
This tour around the hollow remains of home affected me more than I realized at the time. Now, about two and half years later, I realize that why it affected me so much, why I still mourn for something that wasn’t in-and-of itself something I loved. (It was the memories, and the people I love.)
I realized the fantasy, the harsh blinkering denial. There is no safe place you can run to. There is no return to the womb. Life is lived without a safety net… as scary and depressing as that is.
You can’t go home again.
But maybe it’s better that way.