Friday, May 18, 2007


History is an interesting thing.

It's the past lasting into the present. We hold on to it so that we can explain the present the way we want it to be. When we look back, we get to choose the lens through which we view it. We can shape it and bend it to fit the way we need it to fit. It isn't remembering something because it was significant in its own time. It is remembering it so that we can hang reasons on why things are the way they are now.

Not a single thought we have, nothing we do, can ever outlive its usefulness in creating acceptable reasons for the present.

But even history dies.

Stuff lasts. Places last. And that is what all of this is about.

I haven't set foot in the city where I grew up in over twenty years. Sometimes I wonder... what would it be like now... today? Would I still feel the same things or has all the value been culled out of that time and it would feel one-dimensional and hollow? Just bricks and asphalt, buildings and trees?

I'm considering a trip there. It's only six or so hours away. I can drive all those old streets, see the house again... go to a few of the old haunts.

It could have one of two effects. Either the past truly is behind me or I'll get sucked right back into it, flooded with memories that I don't really want to explore any further.

I will admit to being curious.

One way or the other.



**For those who read both sites, no, your eyes are not deceiving you. I posted it twice. :)


caroline said...

Hi Thailand Gal,
I can relate so well to this post. I left this city in 1982 and visited briefly once a year. When I decided to move back, it seemed important to me to just let go of all expectations and to just notice without judgement. It has helped me understand my childhood much better -- seeing this city with adult eyes. I hope you let us know what you decide to do.

Anonymous said...

I returned to one of the many cities I lived in growing up, and was surprised how different everything looked. I drove by the school, the library, and a favorite park, but I didn't feel any connection to the place at all.

The moment had passed. Now it is just asphalt and mortar; nothing special.

MsLittlePea said...

I live about 15 minutes from the house I grew up in. I love my family but that house represents a prison to me and I get that feeling everytime I see it. So I know what you're talking about. It might be 'cleansing' though. Because you no longer call that place home. It was never your spiritual home, only a physical one anyway.

jen said...

i very much understand. i know there are other issues, but the fact alone that you are close to leaving this place permanently would suggest some trips back to where you started. how else can you ensure you won't be bringing extra baggage with you to a place where you should travel light.

slouching mom said...

When I've returned to places I've lived, they've inevitably felt smaller. Diminished, somehow.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Thanks for the comment at the end. I thought I was experiencing deja vu with a few tiny changes, like the reference to Wilshire Blvd. Than I remembered that I had read this on your other blog, which I also comb daily for prospects. Your comment at the end confirmed that I was not losing (the rest of) my mind.

I drove past my childhood home many years later, and was surprised at how small the neighborhood seemed. The "hill" I sledded down was really just a trellised lawn, the nearby blackberry thickets were gone, and I felt little connection to the place.

I think you should go out of curiosity, but with no expectations that it will explain, change or complete anything. Which I doubt you harbor, anyway.

QT said...

The memories, what our mind captured at the time, always seem to be more grand than the actual place. I have gone back too - I agree, curiosity is the best thing to approach it with, and not much else.

meno said...

I try to avoid returning to places from my past. It makes me sad. I look forward to hearing your reaction, should you decide to go.

Julie Pippert said...

I wonder what it is like to have a home...the sort where you grew up there and it is a place you can return.

So as someone who moved a lot, and whose parents live nowhere near the last spot I lived with them...I would, in your shoes, be curious to go there and just see. Feel. Smell.

But it depends on a lot of factors.

That it is in your mind intrigues me. I wonder why you are thinking of it just now.

Is it because you are so close to moving forward? So close to the big move, that is?

Lee said...

i was ripped from my growing up place junior year of highschool and i've never been back. it's weird to me that everyone is arrested in my imagination at 16-17 years old. 22 years later, i wonder if i would recognize a single one of them.

KC said...

I think you would feel empowered by not being trapped by those old feelings anymore. Perhaps this would be freeing.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I go back home, I see the same stagnant people and realize how nice it was to have seen other places.

thailandchani said...

Caroline, that's what I have in mind, too. To see it with older eyes. It's almost as though I've held a "grudge" and that can never be healthy.

I'm wondering if I can see the beauty most others seem to see there.


Thomas, I suspect that is what will happen with me, too. If it doesn't, I'll be kind of disappointed. :)


MsPea, very true! It was only a physical location. The other "stuff" is completely separate.


Jen, that's a very good point. Once I get to the other place, I won't be so free to travel around and explore old places. The likelihood of my being able to make it back here is fairly remote.


SM, I'm expecting something similar. What I'm expecting most is to dump a nearly lifelong prejudice.


Susan, yeah.. I removed the reference to "Wilshire" and a few other things that make it more neutral. People who read this site probably aren't as familiar with all the background.

I don't have any expectations.. but I do have an objective, if that makes any sense.


QT, very true. I'll bet it's changed a lot, too.


Meno, I usually avoid going backward in any regard. I'm not one for fond reminiscing. I've reinvented my life in some ways more than Madonna!


Julie.. maybe it is the moving forward. Maybe it is the idea that for the first time in my life, I feel like I have my own identity. In many ways, I've "blamed" the city where I grew up for my lack of identity before, feeling overpowered by the very "presence" of the place.

Now that I'm more grounded, perhaps I will see it differently.


Lee, I know I wouldn't recognize anyone from there. Everyone has moved on somewhere else. I'm certain of that much. I doubt many of the people I knew returned after college.


KC, exactly. That's my objective.


MRP, I don't know. In some ways, I think I craved that stagnancy. I love consistency, safety, security... all that kind of stuff. Growing up in Los Angeles didn't allow for much of that. :) Everything was always fluid, changing, unpredictable.

I wanted Mayberry and got Los Angeles instead. LOL

That's part of my draw to Thaialnd. Knowing that some things have been the same for hundreds of years is very appealing.