It has been said that “you can’t go back again”. There is a novel by Thomas Wolfe with this title. This phrase has different meanings for everyone who experiences it. “Going back” may mean going to an old place of employment, your old neighborhood, an old club or many other things. People and situations change over time. When you have been gone for an extended time, you are out of touch with the changes that occurred in your absence.
I used to live in Norfolk VA many years ago when my children were small. We went to a great church, were members of the local swim club and had great relationships due to our involvement with all of these organizations.
We lived in an urban area where it was easy to get to know people. As the kids started to grow, I longed to get them out in the country to experience the type of environment that I had experienced as a child. We moved our family to the country in Chesapeake and raised our children until they were grown. Now they have children of their own.
Fast forward 30 years. We moved back to Norfolk where we raised our children. I had the desire to “go back again”. This time, instead of raising kids, we have grandchildren who come to visit us. I started to go back to the same church and places that I used to frequent 30 years earlier. I figured that I could just slip back into those relationships and organizations that I once belonged to. Well, 30 years is a long time to be away. The organizations were still there, but the people that I knew had retired. There were new people who didn’t know me from Adam. Trying to rekindle old relationships has been hard as well. My old friends have formed new relationships during the vacuum of my absence. We rarely get invited for their get togethers. When they have weddings for their children or go on European vacations, we only get to see the pictures. I gave up those relationships and others filled in the void as they should. I guess you can’t go back again.
Surely he will remember me
Today, I went back to another city where I used to have an office. It has been close to 20 years since I have been there. I stopped by a place of business a couple doors down from where I had my office and found the owner of the business that I used to see almost every day. He didn’t recognize me. I reminded him who I was and that I had the office next to his years ago. He then said, “Oh yeah, now I remember. Nice to see you. Take care.” and then he went in to his office and shut the door. No, “How has it been” or anything. I guess you can’t go back again.
When I was in my 30’s, I used to be on the board of several different organizations. When I returned to Norfolk, I joined one of these organizations, this time as a volunteer. Most of the volunteers were a lot younger than me. I felt like an old fogey. I still had the energy and ideas that I used to have, but I couldn’t relate to what they were going through due to the age difference. My ideas didn’t resonate with them. Not experiencing any of the old synergy with my compatriots, I decided to not continue to volunteer. I guess you can’t go back again.
This isn’t supposed to be a whoa is me blog, really it isn’t. It’s just that I realize that people change, places change and that time doesn’t stand still. It waits for no one. You either are there while the change is happening and slowly you change and evolve with your friends and surroundings or you come back to change only remembering the past. I expected life for them to stand still, that I was the only one that changed. I have my memories, good memories, but that is all I really have. Time has marched on.
It is time to move on. I make friends easily and I am proactive. I tried to come back again but you can’t escape the passage of time. You can’t recapture it and plunk it down to live up to your expectations. Wherever I end up, I know that I will form new friendships and get involved in new endeavors. What I have learned is that the memories of each neighborhood and activity that I was involved in will never go away. They are tucked away, within the fabric of my mind. Enjoy the memories. Relish the laughter and the good times that I once had. I will create new memories each and every day, wherever I find myself.