On going home again


‘Less’, a novel by Andrew Sean Greer, has an interesting passage I thought I’d share with you. A man, having left his older lover, realizes that while he has moved on, he always believed that the man he left behind hasn’t changed and is still right there waiting for him. ‘I hadn’t known that I assumed he would wait there forever in that white bed below his window. I hadn’t known I needed him there. Like a landmark, a pyramid-shaped stone or a cypress, that we assume will never move. So we can find our way home. And then, inevitably, one day—it’s gone. And we realize that we thought we were the only changing thing, the only variable, in the world; that the objects and people in our lives are there for our pleasure, like the playing pieces of a game, and cannot move of their own accord; that they are held in place by our need for them, by our love. How stupid.’

I thought this was interestng, as it’s an experience many of us have.  If we close a door and move on to something else, there’s a tendency to imagine that the places and people we no longer see are in a kind of time warp, unchanging, while we go on to other things.  It can be a disconcerting surprise, then to discover that they, like you, have continued to change, and likely are no longer as we remember them.  Home is a moving target.  A cherished childhood house has new occupants. A person we left behind has gone on to have their own experiences.  It makes you realize that ‘home’ is a memory inside you, not a place or person, now undoubtedly changed. But it’s still possible to get comfort from the memory of home.


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