What does it even mean?
You can never go home again. Home is a point in spacetime, the fabric of which we have yet to successfully traverse at will. So far we plod along in linear fashion, with the sad predictability of an inchworm. Home, like everything, is impermanent, a framework I suspect we invented just to have a framework.
I went back to my childhood home in Cincinnati, OH a few weeks ago. I meditated on the plane—in first class there’s plenty of room for mediation—trying in a zen way to have no expectations, to let go of what I thought home would be. The truth is, it felt just as foreign even when I’d lived in that decaying, peach-colored Victorian. The truth is, I’ve felt homeless my whole life. As a child I tried to ameliorate the pain of dislocation, picking up colorful bits of the world and frantically preserving them in a multimedia collage that grew to engulf most of my bedroom. Like a dog, pissing in each corner, I marked with chalk words or abstract design my territory. I wanted a space of my own, a physical space would have to do since there was no emotional space for me. I was superfluous, unnecessary. I felt not exactly unwanted but neither did I feel wanted; it was more like no one would really notice if gradually I just shrank into nothing. Home is a community where one feels integral. My material needs were met in that house, my things were there, my parents, my eight siblings. But I didn’t feel at home, so then I never knew how home should feel or how to build one.
This got me thinking about home, about transience, the ebb and flow of belonging and love. We want home to stay when we leave, and stay the same. We want life to be stone but it’s water. Sometimes home stays the way we carved it, but most of the time your fourteen year old brother has replaced your furniture and his smell has replaced yours. And the trope that home is a person, the feeling they lend you—home is where you are, baby!—is the same. For nothing is less stable than a human. I like it that way. It certainly took some adjusting, since I got my whole worldview from within this postwar culture of white picket fences as the highest Dream, but permanence is poison. We stop learning, we start shrinking, we start dying. Stability goes against the most basic pull of the universe towards entropy. Stability is a lie we tell ourselves to be sure nothing gets us in our sleep.
So I suppose I’m glad that I have no nostalgic feeling. I have good memories, sure, but the overall impression is of shame and self-effacement. I know that my best is yet to come, and on the other end I see in people with carefree pasts the poison that is living facing backwards. Resisting or regretting change is the root of unhappiness. My pull is from the future.