Sunday, October 23, 2005

You can go home --- it just ain't the same

Thomas Wolfe, he of the lyrical prose, once told us in no uncertain terms that you can't go home again. After thinking about this for a little bit, I've decided he's only partially correct.

Went to the high school football game Friday night. Hadn't been to a game in years. Since just after I graduated.

One thing that struck me was the few familiar faces. This shouldn't be a surprise after nearly 10 years. But you'd think after five years at the hometown paper, I'd see at least a few. Somebody. Anybody.

But take away the administration and staff members I know and it would have been barren. A few of the players' grandparents. The head coach. (He has to be there.) And that's about it.

The last time I went to Maryville for a high school football game, the Democrats still controlled Congress. Best I recall, the place was packed. The cheerleaders did their thing on the sidewalk that runs just in front of the visitor's bleachers. I knew everybody.

Friday night a couple of fat raindrops fell on a half empty visitors section. Guess everybody stayed at home. Some may have been on fall break.

I'll always associate Halls High School with memories from more than a decade ago. As if it's still stuck in a time warp, floating out there somewhere, just waiting for me to step back into it like a nightmare or an episode of "The Twilight Zone."

Strolling off into the night after the game, it struck me how few people I knew from those days are still around. Or if they are, aren't involved much anymore. Which is fine. Folks are off leading their own lives. It is how it should be.

But it almost feels like your entire hometown changed cast members somewhere between intermission and the third act. As if the credits rolled and somebody forgot to tell you.

Turns out you can go home again. I've been back for five years.

But it ain't the same. It's never the same. And, yet, that's comforting somehow.

There's not much left back there I'd care to relive again.

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