Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) in his 1940 posthumous novel You Can’t Go Home Again tells the story of George Webber who left his hamlet of Libya Hill to seek his fame and fortune. George becomes an author and his first major success is an autobiographical novel of his home town.
Unfortunately, a number of the hamlet dwellers do not care for his depictions of the town and especially of them. George becomes an albatross to his hometown, his place of origins.
Wolfe’s summation is
“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of ‘the artist’ and the all-sufficiency of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time—back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
There are many who disagree with Wolfe’s life views. However, I am one who agrees with his sentiments.
When I left my ancestral home in 1974, I knew it was a permanent departure on the seas of life. As I headed off to the university from my mountain hamlet, I knew the moorings of the past with its assortment of friends and loves would be forever there. There’s always the girl that you left behind.
It seems that most of the people and family that I left behind are still there. Many are buried in well-placed cemeteries in the county. Many still live and work in the region. It seems very few ventured beyond the confines of the green valley to explore the world.
Unfortunately, some of them died in foreign locales for their country. Some just simply disappeared from the scene.
The title of this post—There’s a Road to Travel on That Leads You Back to Home is from the song Endless Road. The video is listed below.
The song is about someone who left home. This wanderer reflects over his travels and the many roads that he finds. However, he never finds one to lead him home. He ponders on the allure of home, and there’s a road which leads back home someday because you were not meant to be a rolling stone.
The rolling stone metaphor has described many people in history who took their journey on a quest which most of their contemporaries never found of interest or understood. Perhaps, it was in their genome to seek the farthest horizon.
Nomads wander in search of the next oasis. Their farthest horizon is only a dromedary ride. It is difficult to put down roots in sands or waters. For the next sand dune or the next star always beckons to the true nomad.
How is it with you this late June day? Are you searching for a road home or did you never leave home?
G. D. Williams © 2012
photo by G. D. Williams