So, I had previously posted about my apprehensions on taking a trip back to my hometown of Bellefonte, PA, for the first time in 30 years. I was worried that I may have romanticized that time in my life. I left when I was 12 for Pete’s sake, and a lot of intervening life has happened since then: a move to the deep south (Texas), joining the military (Air Force), getting married and having a kid (now 18 and getting ready for college). not a life without some impact, to be sure.
How, then, could I know whether or not to trust myself about all those years ago?
Turns out, its okay. Have things remained exactly as I remember them? No. But that’s okay. The important stuff hasn’t changed. Downtown is still downtown, with its old brick buildings, too narrow streets, small businesses instead of chains (except for a very few fast foods–it’s America, not Mayberry), and friendly locals.
I found myself able to navigate this little town which i had left so long ago without too much trouble, and only a little extraneous walking (for which I apologized profusely to my poor wife), and saw and felt and smelled and just basked in, soaking it up, and feeling my soul renew itself in the land of its birth, and (to crib from the Creator) it was good.
I spoke freely to my wife, about what I remember and what I don’t. How much I remember and how much I don’t. I spoke about my father and how I viewed him then and now. About how I feel about myself. That topic is a hard one for anyone, but talking about it here, in this place, made it easier.
If I can’t be honest about myself in the place of my birth, the place that has shaped my perception of myself more than any other, then such self-honesty is not possible anyplace on this Earth.
So, when I return home (funny how home be many places, isn’t it?) to Utah, I will be ready to attack my writing with renewed energy. A soul full of life and remembrance, and maybe some revelations about my past that I can channel into my work, to make it better, more accessible, more real.
Because isn’t that what we want from our writing? To make it that way? To make the reader feel that, “yes, I understand this, I’ve felt it too, I love that person/I hate that person because I know that person.”
But to do that, we have to be able to say “I know myself.”
I think this trip is allowing me to begin to say that with more conviction.
Because of that, this will always be home.