The Difference Between Going Back and Going Home

Wish those words were mine: “I finally know the difference between going back and going home.”

They are not mine. They belong to Butch Walker. Most have never heard of him. But in the music world, he’s well know as a producer of many big names. Here’s a live performance of the song.

I don’t talk often about my past. Mostly because it’s not something I’m proud of, nor are the decisions I’ve had to make as a result something I cherish or flaunt. But, anyone who has read enough of Ride for Life knows, my past is marred with many, how shall I say, demons?

This week I traveled back to the land of my birth. Friends and family here ask, “How does it feel to be home?” This started 14 years ago.

The first time I returned, I was excited, sad, nostalgic. Nearly a year had passed. I had never been outside my hometown or away from my brother, mother, or grandparents since birth. It was as if I was a soldier coming home from war. The hugs, the crying, the memories, and the fitting myself back into the world as if I never skipped a beat.

Two more years passed. The nostalgia played a little stronger. Urges for the local foods like clam cakes (crab cakes with clams and deep fried), Manhattan clam chowder, Devil Dogs, Funny Bones, and Johnny’s Pizza increased. The hugs remained, but the crying seemed to only be on my end. Tension had already started. The animosity of my leaving had set in like rot on the side of a house: under the vinyl siding but once found is ugly and destructive.

Now, more than 14 years later, I’m not the man I once was. The nostalgia is gone. I don’t want to be here. Grandpa is nearly the end stages of dementia. Grandma still can’t get over my cutting ties with her daughter. I watch my back for the ones I’ve expelled from my life to pick up the pieces of my new family, pieces nearly destroyed by those same forces. My brother, sister-in-law, and beautiful niece miss me (as I them).

But…

This place is no longer my home.

I go back. But I don’t go back to my home. I go back to a shell of a past. A past that I have until this week hidden from myself. It hurts inside. But, in two days time, I will be home, in the arms of my loving wife, in the home we’ve created.

In the words of Kidd, “I miss it.”

But as Kidd also learns, it’s not that he misses what he had. It’s that he misses what he thought he had, what he learned he never had to begin with. He misses the false memory.

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