You Can’t Go Home Again
In April 2012—more than five years ago—I wrote You Can’t Go Home Again. (Truth be told, and I only note this because I read the piece again, I wrote the piece, mostly, in April 2011, when my daughter enrolled at my and her mother’s alma mater.) Alas, I had more Can’t Go Home experiences this week.
Two-day strategic planning conference. “Show up!” I did, and I gave myself a mini-staycation at our venue, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The resort sits less than a mile from the home my former spouse and I built and first slept in on Friday, March 13, 1992. The place our daughter called home for almost 24 years.
The conference succeeded, grandly. More than dozen scary-smart, committed people came together, worked hard and, then, harder, and made the most of the opportunity to look forward … wisely. I’m the guy on the outside in this group, so everyone accommodated me and my often off-point observations. Kind they are, my peeps!
Tuesday night had us dining at the Flying V. Better than average, for sure, but if people I knew years ago still involve themselves with resort management, step it up. When a water glass tumbles on the dinner table, dropping nicely rolled towels on the table—you spilled; you clean it up—doesn’t cut it. And “it’s summer, top staff aren’t here”—offered by a table mate, kindly—doesn’t justify poor service. (I’d had one sip of my martini when I toppled the water glass, by the way, and nothing beforehand.) So-so food doesn’t cut it, either!
On Wednesday morning, early, I walked. Down to Ventana Vista Elementary School. On the way I saw an old friend, jogging across the street. “Hi Mark,” said she, and I suspect she doesn’t know Mark doesn’t live here anymore.
Ventana Vista was the “big kids” school for my daughter when she was four. Leaving the school I saw a woman with a double-wide stroller. Someday soon, its occupants will be talking … and mentioning the “big kids” school. And then they’ll be 25.
Wednesday evening, our crew dined at Commoner & Co. In its prior life it was The Abbey, a place to which I often walked—2.5 miles, downhill—on a Sunday evening for a martini or, sometimes, a martini and a half of another. (I’d get a ride home.)
We walked out of Ventana together, and I kept walking. My peeps were kind, tolerating my walking, my being 15 minutes late, and my walking in sweaty. (I did look sharp in my new Optimo Hatworks panama hat.) We had drinks, a fine dinner, and passed on dessert. And, then, I walked back. Uphill. In the dark.
I very much appreciated my sojourn into my past. We enjoyed many a happy family dinner at the Flying V. Loews was a second choice for a Sunday martini, and I could walk both ways, as it was closer, and there was a lot less uphill going home.* The beauty of Northeast Tucson can’t be found anywhere else in our environs.
Still, when 4 p.m. came on Thursday, I could not get home fast enough. Max. My in-town home. The U of A just a block and a house away. My current life.
Last Monday evening Max and I walked. Home, he was panting a bit. So I panted, too. Tongue out. “A, huh, huh, huh, huh … .” Well, the boy flipped out. He went skidding away on the wood and tile floors, skittering this way and that for at least three minutes. Pure joy!
So, on Tuesday morning, off we go, early, before our Bisbee journey for a meeting and the collecting of the hat. Back. My fake panting. And the “What a moron I got for a person” look.
Fake-panting induced skidding and skittering represented a moment in time. NE Tucson was another, albeit a much longer one. The moments brought to mind Thomas Keller’s observation in The French Laundry Cookbook:
The initial bite is fabulous. The second bite is great. But by the third bite—with many more to come—the favors begin to deaden … . It’s like getting into a hot bath or jumping into a cold pool. At first, the temperature is shocking, but after a few minutes, you get so used to it that you don’t even notice it.
Lives involve moments. Some are momentous; most aren’t. But they’re all unique. Treasure them, take special pleasure in the great ones, and appreciate the spaces in between.