Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Thomas Wolfe and Popular People

The other day, after breakfast dishes were washed and put away, I announced I was going out for a drive. Nowhere special. Just out. 

This corner of the world will always hold a piece of my heart, for it was here, in my parents’ home, that I lived out my teenage and young adult years, the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Indeed, that is me on the front porch, back in the teen years, my adorable Baby by my side. What can I say? Maxi dresses were the rage.) My first car after high school (a bronze Camaro, of which I have not a single photo) idled in this very driveway. Years later, I married The Man in this very yard. There are memories here. 

But it had been awhile since I’d driven around, looking for the familiar, finding the new. Today, I would do just that. Go exploring. 

With nothing but time on my hands, I drove down rural roads dotted with telephone poles and the occasional paper cup tossed carelessly out a window. Other than a few new homes here and there, things appeared much the same. 

I made a turn and decided to drive by my alma mater, the school that I loved and hated all at the same time. It was a weekend; the parking lot was empty. I stopped the car and put the windows down. The building has undergone changes since I was a student there, but the air was alive and full of memories. 

In the silence, it was easy to remember the colors and sounds of my school days. I could still see the green hallways, the gray metal lockers, and hear my ninth-grade English teacher scrape his fingernails slowly across the chalkboard, just to hear the girls squeal. I recalled the faces of the popular people, and how pretty they were, and how I wished I could be them. 

I must have sat there a good half-hour, just me and my memories. 

In Thomas Wolfe’s novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, George Webber, a struggling author, writes a book that describes his hometown and the people who live there. But the people don’t like his interpretation and turn against him. In the conclusion of the book Webber realizes that one cannot go home again, back to young dreams of fame and glory. 

And he’s right, you know. 

Under blue skies and sunshine, I brought the car to life and headed back to the house. There I found my dad napping in his recliner, while Mom and The Man scowled over crossword puzzles. 

I’m not sure what became of the popular people at school, but I am sure that I wouldn’t trade places with any of them.



  1. That was a nice post, Dayle. And truly, I agree with the message. I wouldn't trade places with the kids who were popular either.

    As a matter of fact, some of them have even already gone to the other side of life!

    Hope your dad is getting stronger each day. God bless you and your love for being there. Must mean a lot to your Mama, too. Susan

  2. I "go home" every once in awhile. The memories have a feeling! The feelings bring back stories. The stories bring back smell, etc.

    So happy you took time and yes, you can't go back home when your already have one!

  3. I'm really torn, wanting to go "home" again -- but afraid to witness how much the community has changed, and my bubble will have burst. (Does that make sense?)

  4. Great post down memory lane!
    Mary Alice

  5. Interesting thoughts, Dayle. Currently our Class of '77 is trying to put together a reunion - first one in many years. We were a small class in a Catholic high school and have for the past four years been slowly reconnecting though facebook. It is interesting to see who ended up where. One thing is for sure - we ALL have ended up in mid-life with many hard lessons behind us. Lately, in the trials of "hard" I have wondered about trading lives with someone on "easy street" - but in prayer I know - I wouldn't trade His streets of gold for any smoother road on this earth. Since high school, a couple of my classmates found His golden road,too. Will be interesting to compare notes.


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