As I was thinking about Indiana, I realized I hadn’t addressed the old adage, “You can’t go home again.” Well, that’s pretty much crap because we are a mobile society, and of course, you can go home again. It’s what you may find changed you have to be ready for. At seventeen, I wasn’t.
I grew up near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in a small town until I was sixteen. My Dad got a transfer to Marion, Indiana, and I had a rough time of it since I was just about to begin my junior year. Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem for a lot of teens, but I had a complication I didn’t know about. I was beginning a path toward major depression disorder, so everything that was literally colorful and beautiful to everyone else was awash in grays in my eyes.
The first time our family went back to Pennsylvania to visit, I spent a school day in “class” with all of my friends. I followed their schedule and pretended to listen to the teachers. They all knew me, anyway. But in one class, there was a substitute I had never seen before. My friends tried to explain to her why I was in class, but near the end, she called on me for an answer. (It had to be math. I just know it!) When I looked up at the teacher blankly, she said,
“Oh you don’t belong here, do you? So you wouldn’t know what we’re talking about.”
That was my little snowflake moment. She was right. I didn’t belong there, and I’ve never forgotten that.
I survived Indiana, even graduated from Ball State, so I consider myself half-Hoosier. (If you don’t know what a Hoosier is, don’t worry; no one does. It’s the nickname for anyone who lives in Indiana and a lot easier to say than Indianian.)
Last week, when we visited Marion, one of the saddest things I saw was a beautiful, historic cemetery that had lost its wrought iron fence. Someone had sold it. A wrought iron fence that cradled all the graves in this cemetery–gone! I could tell people were trying to tend the graves as best they could, but it felt as though it was a sadder place than it should have been. It was missing something.
Yes, you can go home again, but remember this: where you had been kept on living just as the place to which you went lived on, too.
However, you can keep your hometown safe in your memory, and that will never change.