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Going Home

Thomas Wolfe suggests that you can’t go home again. Well after more than 20 years of living elsewhere (I’ve now lived more outside of NM than in it), I paid a visit back to the old home place. When we were living outside of Edgewood, it was still out in the country. Now, the town (city?) has grown like crazy and features a Walmart, Smith’s grocery store, Walgreens, and other national chains. Our old house is almost unrecognizable with all of the new homes that have been built around it. The pasture around our house now has 3 cul-de-sacs with nice homes on it. Our old house is still there, though it’s looking pretty rough for wear. The garage dad built is still there, with lots of surplus electronic parts buried in the concrete foundation (I can’t help but think of the cache of Atari 2600 ET cartridges buried in the desert). The barn still features the window from a washing machine, though it also needs a new roof and paint.

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, 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.” – Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

I guess what struck me the most is how small everything seems to me now. Growing up, I thought the back yard was huge and the barn cavernous. Now I see that it really wasn’t all that big. I also thought we had to trek quite a ways to the bus stop on top of the hill. Not only is the hill much less steep now with all the new construction work they’ve done, it’s also not all that far.

We peeked in the windows of my old elementary school — home of the Unicorns! The school was brand new when I was there — I was the first class to attend — but it has now closed down. The mascot was changed at some point too, but I was really hoping to see the huge unicorn mural hanging in the foyer. I wonder what they did with it?

Continuing the morning of nostalgia, I showed the kids the old Dairy Queen where we used to ride our horses through the drive-through to get ice cream. It used to be a Stuckeys, but they’ve rebranded and given it a major face lift. I wonder if it still scores Cs and Ds on the monthly health inspections? You used to always have to check to make sure the card in the door wasn’t red before heading in.

We stopped in at the cemetery and saw Mammaw and Papaw’s gravesite. They still need to add Mamaw’s death date to the stone — it’s been a while since she has passed.

Finally, on our trip into Albuquerque, we stopped in to visit the old store. The last time I came through Albuquerque about 10 years ago, the electronic equipment was still in the building. Now though, the entire strip center has new tenants. Our store is now split into a Chinese massage parlor, some sort of cash advance place, and a boost mobile independent contractor cell store. The record store next door is also gone, and even the laundromat has been replaced with a smoke shop. I took some photos and if you look closely, you can still see the outline of the store name on the marquee. That’s about the only sign I could see that the store had been there. It’s rather unsettling to see everything so different. I wanted to go to UNM and see if I could find the guy selling green chile cheeseburgers, but I was kind of disorientated, so we decided to check out the petroglyphs instead. The earliest markings date back to 2000 BCE – it was a helpful reminder to see that some things haven’t changed.

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