Aha! At last! Page 704.
He saw now that you can’t go home again—not ever.And I saw, too. I got it, I got it, I got it. “You Can’t Go Home Again” had taken a most interesting turn and I agreed, yes, Thomas Wolfe, you can’t go home again. Life moves in one direction, one inexorable direction, and that direction is forward, ahead, onward maties! To the future! And I got it, but I did not think I could explain it, put it into words, but I knew I had got it and I knew it was much more complex, deep, full, or something like that, than anything I had read online that tried to explain that well-worn phrase “you can’t go home again.”
Never fear. Thomas Wolfe goes on. Page 706.
… And at the end of it he knew, and with the knowledge came the definite sense of new direction toward which he had long been groping, that the dark ancestral cave, the womb from which mankind emerged into the light, forever pulls one back—but that you can’t go home again.Damn. Now if that isn’t something to cross-stitch and hang by the hearth.
The phrase had many implications for him. You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of “the artist” and the all-sufficiency of “art” and “beauty” and “love,” back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, 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.
Wednesday, but earlier
By mid-afternoon the temperature toying with 90 humid degrees, about to zoom past, the first day of several in a heat wave predicted, and Josie and I head to the river. For the first time this year I wade through the current up to the island, swim through a deep dark pool. Josie runs along shore, along the bank, back and forth, and the water feels good, clear and cold, just this soothing side of wild.
We goof around at the island for a bit and then I float and bob back, the river carrying me, and Josie meets me at our access point, and he’s just running around having fun, and so for a while I hang from Stick, a branch worthy of its own name as Stick has been here from Day One and I have been holding on to him, letting the cool water rush over me on hot hot days, from the start, for five years now, and now the sixth begins. Stick is long and skinny but strong, extending horizontally from some long-ago fallen tree on the river’s opposite bank, half in the water, mostly in the water, with a long tip rising above, bobbing in the current, saying grab on, baby, let go. Sometimes Stick is completely underwater—it was just last week.
Josie plays along the shore, in and out of the water, and when it is time to leave I cannot make it back up the bank—too much mud. The initial three feet has me stymied. I plant a foot, feel secure, whoo! Down in the mud I go, so back in the river, rinse off, try again, whoo! Down in the mud, back in the river, Josie loves this game. I finally find a spot that cannot foil me. We head home, hose off, mow a little, hose off, mow a little, hose off.
Later, maybe, it’s hard to tell
The clock has stopped again. It has been five-forty since … five-forty.
Five-forty and the sky is as dark with storm as with waning night. But the storm seems far to the north, a constant rumble and grumble to the north and flashes of heat lightening. It is 75 degrees. Last night, when I went to bed, the temp had dropped from 95 to 85. I did not think I would be able to sleep. But I did. The miracle of the fan. But I am thinking it is because of the fan I am feeling stiff and creaky. Or maybe it is the heat. My brain feels swollen and … it may stop at any moment. My brain. Join the clock in perpetuity, five-forty forever.
Every window is wide open just in case a renegade bit of cool night air whispers by.
Five-forty, but I swear it’s later
Wowee! What a storm! Came up from the south! Several degrees cooler now, raining, rumbling and grumbling, flashes of lightening, the storm ripped through with great winds from the west and south, bending the trees, the bushes—it’s a marvelous thing, slightly frightening, to see the trees bend as they do, so close to ground, springing back up to toss their fine, full crowns of glossy green then down again! to the ground! all in a twist and bother and back up! Again! I feel lucky the trees are still standing. Lucky to have a roof. What a scream of cool air.
The clock has moved. It now shows seven-forty-seven.
We find such interesting things in the river.
Five hours after that
Wow. I just finished “You Can’t Go Home Again.” And there, on the penultimate page, Donald Trump. I am blown away.
I kind of like this broooooooown-eyed Susan.
The lack of anger in my soul
tells me what cannot be told,
the past is past, that’s plain to see,
and the future ahead, yet to be.
Time for a dip in the river.
It’s been a long time since I headed out to the farmers market feeling as tired and crappy as I did this morning. But we were moving along, and I was sipping some Earl Grey tea, radio off, no music, no audio book, and that’s mostly the way it has been this year, just a quiet dawn ride through the forest, mind wandering, wherever it wants to go, and before I know it, Ishpeming, Negaunee, Marquette, radio on, looking for a walk-up song because all the ballplayers have one, I want one, too, and a Saturday or so ago it was uncanny when I turned on the radio just before the Front Street round-a-bout and then, right then, Van Halen’s “Jump” began.
This morning my mind wandered and found its way to that rocking chair on the balcony of my parents’ condo where I sat for a moment early June 2005, looking out at Lake Michigan, the sky, the water, all so blue and summery fresh and I rocked gently, and I see this peaceful scene, but this memory is anything but peaceful, so full of all that was inside; and then I remember. A few weeks later I am at the rest stop just south of Green Bay with the dogs, Buster and Queenie, and the cat, Goldie, and it was the same time of day as now, sun just up, day just begun, on the road, and I’m on my dad’s cell phone because I did not have one, and my dad had just died, the night before; today is the anniversary.
My mind goes back and the emotion drowns me as always I feel I am there but in reality I am here driving through forest eleven years later so no, I see, I do not go back because I cannot go back, it has taken me such a hell of a long time to see but maybe, now, I do.