Going Home

The recently divorced, fifty-year-old salesman had gone back to see his little foothill-surrounded hometown. All the quaint little houses on the street where he raised were not to be seen. In their place stood a few large, clean, splendid-looking houses, each a different shape and design. The old, straight, broken up sidewalk on which he had ridden his first bicycle was now smooth and curving and a pleasure to look at. The great ancient tree he used to climb had been cut down, and now a lovely, thirty-foot weeping willow stood there swaying langorously in the mid-day breeze. A few blocks down (where in a dis-used weedy field he had built a little hut in which to dream and to play) there was a huge parking lot in front of a fair-sized shopping mall. And consequently there were a lot of strongly-humming cars going by him, splashing sunlight all around.

In fact, there was so much good new life all about him that he didn’t feel disappointed not to see the things of his boyhood. He didn’t resent the builders, the doers, the makers. Instead, he felt vigorously alive and just as full of youth as when he had played and dreamed there and ‘owned’ that street as a boy. (He did remember that—he remembered, at the age of nine, of thinking that he owned it; it had been his.) And that was just the feeling he had come here hoping to find. “Progress, going forward”, he thought, “that is the essence of youth. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, you energetic builders of cities; thank you, you sharp, worldly angels, you.”

As he happily stood there on the corner of his street a middle-aged man, shuffling along with a shiny aluminum cane, said in a bitter voice, “You should have seen it forty years ago; it was beautiful. Damn greedy developers came along and ruined it.”

He turned sharply and looked the faintly familiar, sour-faced man straight in the eye and said, “Now listen to me. I love this street and every young and new thing about it. If the spirit of youth is dead in you, you will please keep such a shameful truth to yourself. Now, get out of here.”

He was instantly aware that he had never felt so proud of “his street” before, or even of himself. And he felt the breeze against his face as it ruffled his hair, and he knew that he stood as a young man stands before going into battle, and he knew that he was whole again. He thought that his “going home” was like nothing he had ever heard anyone talk about, or read about. And he was damn glad it wasn’t.

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2 Responses to Going Home

  1. Opus Dei says:

    Indeed, he was ‘going home’. I wish I could meet the man, whistling by coolly on his way ‘home’, and give him a proud salute…to progress!

  2. You have, in your spirit.

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