You Can't Go Home Again... Or Can You?

I was just four years old when we first moved into a small farmhouse toward the top of a big hill – right smack in the middle of nowhere. That “nowhere” hill overlooked an achingly beautiful landscape. Almost untouched by civilization; the hills rolled gently through valleys, river bottoms, hayfields, timber and row crops.

It was a quiet place. One might hear the occasional echo of a far off tractor, a barking dog, or the songs of native birds. In general though, the hills were hushed – as if in reverence to the beauty of the land.

It probably sounds like a desolate existence, but that would be far from the truth. We had each other, and we were a happy little family. We had various animals and lots of places to explore. We were just a short drive from the closest small town, and less than a half mile from our country church (which we visited every Sunday, without fail).

There were other houses sparsely scattered along the narrow gravel road. Though our neighbors were few – many were dear friends. Sometimes all you could see from the road was a lonely mailbox marking a winding driveway.

But we knew. We knew, that if we followed one of those driveways, we’d come upon some unassuming home where someone would offer us sweet tea or cookies and where there would always be friendly conversation and laughter.

We only lived on that lovely hill-top farm for six years; but that time holds many of my dearest childhood memories. Exploring the woods, following my Dad to the hay fields, chasing my dog Lucky, and getting into all sorts of trouble – those are surely days I’ll never forget.

We were close to one neighboring family in particular. For the sake of their privacy, I shall call them “Family D”. We didn’t have a lot of family of our own living nearby, but these folks treated us as if we were part of theirs. All these years later, many members of that family still live in the area. In fact, one branch of Family D lives in our old house, or at least in the same spot. The old farmhouse went through a much needed renovation/expansion some years back, and though some of the original bones may remain – you wouldn’t know it just by looking.

But I digress. Over the years, we have kept in touch with Family D, and recently they invited us to a Fourth of July barbeque being held at the farm where we lived all those years ago. We didn’t hesitate in accepting the invitation to return to our old stomping grounds.

And that, dear reader, brings me to the title of this post. Can one truly go “home” again? It had been years since I’d been to that area; yet my memories remain so vivid that it was hard to imagine reality ever living up to the way I remembered it.

The big day came and it was with great excitement that we (my folks, my brother, and I) went down those familiar country roads once again. My hubby and Willie went too, but this was their first visit to the little farm from our past. Along the way, I noticed that some things had changed over the years. Several homes I remembered - were simply gone. Others had faded a bit from what I now realize might have been their ‘glory days’. On the other hand, there were new houses, and others which had been lovingly restored. It was like traveling through time, but at the same time – seeing it all for the first time. So many years had passed. So many things had changed. Every curve, every hill brought surprises, but also the comfort of memory.

Finally, we were there. As the ‘home place’ came into view, I had to hold my breath just a bit. Yes, things had changed: the house looks quite different, and has actually doubled in size. There is a large pond where once there was none. The hill itself has been streamlined and cleared to improve the view. The tree I had watched my Dad plant in the front yard was gone. Other differences (both small and large) were clear.

And yet, in some ways – it was exactly the same! The mailbox was newer, but it was in the same spot ours had stood. It was there that I’d waited for the school bus and mailed letters to my Grandma. The old barn where I broke my arm, and where Dad kept the sheep and goats - is now red instead of white – but when I poked my head inside, it looked and even smelled exactly as I remembered it. The hill where we used to sled, and the field behind the barn where my pony once ran (and where I’d broken my other arm) remained untouched by time. The general ‘feeling’ of the place was still the same as I remembered.

The trees on the hills still shimmer in the breeze. The air is still fresh and clear. The view from that hilltop still takes my breath away. It still feels like home.

The grill was fired up, and the fragrance of charcoal and sizzling meat lead the way. We were greeted with warm hellos from our dear friends, and counters laden with an Independence Day feast worthy of it’s own Food Network special. Our plates were soon mounded high with burgers, chicken, fried potatoes and watermelon. Into our hands were thrust chilly tumblers full of sweet tea. For dessert there was cake and ice cream.

We chatted with the folks, shared stories of the old days, and we laughed together. My parents, my brother, me, my hubby and our sweet little boy – we were all welcomed warmly. We reminisced and caught up with everyone’s current lives. When it was time to go, we hugged and “good-byed” our way back to the cars - our bellies and hearts full.

It was a lovely day. It is still a very lovely place. It was a day that we will always look back on fondly. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to revisit a bit of the past, but more than that – we are so lucky to have been blessed with friends like Family D.

So, that question again….Can you go “Home” again?

I think the answer is yes. Yes, you can go “home” again. For if your friends and family are with you – wherever you are is indeed home – whether you’ve ever lived there, or not.


  1. This is a beautiful story Christy...it gave me the goosebumps. What a blessing that your kind and good family friends are now caretakers of that land and home...and so generously shared it with you and your family during that holiday. I absolutely agree with your conclusion...you can always go home again...you may bring a bit more wisdom and experience (and family :) along with you...but it's always available for the taking...either in the material world...or in the world of the memory and mind.
    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely story with us.
    Love and good thoughts,

  2. We from "Family D" were honored to have all of you join us once again for our Fourth of July gathering! I read your post to "S" (husband) and "M" (daughter) and found myself choking back tears before I got to the end. Thank you for writing it.
    "G" from "Family D"

  3. I really enjoyed this post. Imagining your home from your descriptions, lovely. It is ture, you can go back home; I took Mr B back to where we used to live, to see a dear (now sadly departed) friend. By a weird hand of fate, we were invited into my old home. It was brilliant! The cutey cottage now had an upper floor, the patio and rosebed gone, but in one room...the same old York stone fireplace...and I was transported right back.
    Thank you for writing this post.
    Z xx

  4. As one of the former younger members of Family D, I can say that you guys ARE a part of our family - I don't remember many holidays or childhood gatherings when your family wasn't there! This post brought a tear to my eye. You have a way of putting things that makes me stop and look and realize that what I have all around me is all I really need! It was good seeing you this weekend - keep writing! :)



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