You Can’t Go Home Again – But you Can Visit
I was invited to address the students at SUNY-Farmingdale this month, courtesy of Dr. Laurie Rozakis, who just happens to be one of my oldest and dearest friends. She figured that as a fellow educator and longtime writer, I might have interesting things to say. I fortunately had the ability to schedule the talk to allow me to stay north and attend Fairfield’s 375th birthday party.
Now that I’ve been down in Maryland for 1.5 years, it’s what I currently call home although it lacks the familiarity of Long Island and Connecticut where I spent the previous 54 years. Driving up that Friday morning, I detoured through Lynbrook for the first time in nearly a decade and found it depressing. I barely recognized any of the shops and what replaced the wonderful bakery is another chain store. Lots of empty storefronts and a general run down feeling. Our old home looks exactly the same which was a small comfort.
The lecture was on Worldbuilding, using my After Earth experience as the centerpiece. Dr. Rozakis and crew spread the word far and wide across the campus but I wound up addressing 17 students, most of whom took one of her classes. They were certainly appreciative which was nice. I even sold one book so I was ahead of the game.
On Saturday, I raced up to Connecticut and whirlwind day of visiting with friends. At least the town hadn’t radically changed since we left. It felt both comfortable but no longer like I belonged. People were thrilled to see me and there were hugs, kisses, handshakes, and lots of conversation but it was largely catch up. After lunch I wandered tiny Yarrow Road — #36 was no longer my house but was also unchanged complete with our name still on the mailbox. I had already caught up with Val our mail carrier so knew a lot of the local gossip. I delighted in visiting with the Bentons, two of the town’s longest-lived residents. They look a little older and frailer but were excited to chat about any and every thing.
Finally, I put on my suit and collected my date. With Deb staying home, I got to squire Cristin McCarthy Vahey, a friend who was recently elected to the State legislature. Sacred Heart University was nicely transformed into a party space and there was plenty of good food, good music, and lively conversation. I didn’t get to see a lot of people, and was surprised at some of the No Shows. But, I felt right at home when I was asked to help handicap next year’s Selectman Race, despite not having been a part of daily politics in 18 months.
All in all it was wonderful to revisit where I’ve been and I do miss my cronies, but I also realize I am forging new relationships, experiences, and memories in a new environment. We’ll continue to visit, of course, but with everyone moving on with their own lives, it was truly clear I was merely a visitor passing through.