June 30, 1999

Sometimes you can't go home again
_It's true: You can't go home again. In the last few weeks, both Mark and I have been struck with the reality of that old adage. In our cases, it's not just an emotional warning, it's a physical impossibility.
___I was one of those fortunate people who grew up in one place, living in the same city my whole life until marriage, and the same house from first grade through college. That might be boring to some
people, but it was wonderful to me. And although after Mark and I married I've lived in four different cities and eight residences, I could still point back to that house in Albuquerque and say that was my home.
___All that changed this month. After 31 years in the same house, my dad decided he was ready for a change. My mother died three years ago, and my father has since remarried. And now he and my stepmother have sold the old homestead (in the middle of suburbia) and moved to a new house.
___It was a good move, and it sounds like they have a found a really neat house. And it probably is wise to be in a house with no history for either of them.
___Listening to my dad's stories about moving all the accumulation of 31 years of stuff makes me glad Mark and I have moved enough to get rid of some things. Of course, Dad's glad we're closer to them, so he can dump some of that stuff on us! When he says he is driving to Dallas for a visit, we know we are in trouble.
___Selfish person that I am, I still struggle with the loss of the other house. Oh, sure, we can drive by it and wave and tell the kids that is where Mommy grew up. (Now I really feel old.) But it won't be the same as driving up and feeling like you are home.
___My feelings are probably intensified by the loss of my mother. I have so many good memories of our life together in that house that it is hard to separate the two. In some ways, I feel like I have lost her all over again.
___At least my old house is still there.
___I grew up in Moore, Okla., where my family lived through my junior year of high school. And although we haven't lived there in 20 years, we always felt a connection to that place--to our church, to the schools, to our friends, to our neighbors, to what used to be "our" house.
___Even though we didn't live in that house anymore, it stood as a reminder of where we had come
from, a place you could drive by on occasional visits, a place that by its existence somehow validated your own existence.
___But after May 3, that house no longer existed. It was nearly demolished by the deadly tornadoes that swept through Oklahoma and parts of Texas.
___The week after the storm, I got to visit our old neighborhood. But on this visit, I had to have an escort to get past the National Guardsmen posted at every entrance to the subdivision.
___The streets I had ridden my bike on in the summer and walked to school on in the fall were now littered with debris. Some of our neighbors' houses were completely demolished. Our old house was barely standing--the attached garage now detached and missing, the roof blown off, all the windows blown out and the front door standing wide open.
___It's an odd feeling to realize tragedy has struck someplace you once walked. You somehow feel injured, though you have no real losses to claim.
___And it's disconcerting to know that part of your heritage no longer exists, that one of the mileposts of your life's journey has been knocked down and removed.
___Yet it's also freeing to realize your life isn't solely defined by where you've been, that the stepping stones you've danced across don't have to stay in place to secure your future.
___Reminds me of an old gospel song: "This world is not my home. I'm just a passin' through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue."

___He Said/She Said is a new regular feature of the Baptist Standard's on-line edition. Mark Wingfield is managing editor of the Standard. Alison Wingfield is a freelance writer. The Wingfields moved to Texas in January from Louisville, Ky., where Mark had been editor of the Western Recorder, in which this column appeared weekly.



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