You’ve likely heard someone say, “You can’t go home again.” If you haven’t, you can find it in everything from country songs to a book by a famous author. In fact, an internet search found more than 4 million hits in under a second. If that was not enough, Pinterest has 180 pictures, wall-hangings, and what have you related to the phrase.
Of course, the underlying meaning of the thought is things will not be the same. Whether it is our memory of home or changes wrought by time and progress, the place we remember no longer exists. Still, we try, as I did a few months ago. Of course, in my case, there is another consideration, which home?
I have a section in a book I am pretending to write titled “Urban Nomads.” That was the way my family lived as I was growing up.
We were nomads without the desert, camels, and tents. We had dogs, whatever car dad had the hots for at the moment, and a long string of rent houses. That is why my attempt to go home again took me someplace other than a house.
Some time ago, I thought of a place my family spent a good deal of time for a few years. It was not our home, but it was a place we enjoyed. Also, at the time, it was somewhat secluded. It was a bit like an extension of our backyard if our yard had been big enough to hold a small lake.
That little bit of heaven to us was named Lake Weatherford. Like most lakes in Texas, it was not formed by natural forces. Rather, someone decided they needed to store some water or avoid seasonal flooding, and one government agency or another built a dam.
Construction on the dam was completed in March 1957. I cannot tell you how long it took to go from a relatively small dammed-up river to a lake, but we showed up not long after it officially opened.
We had some great times there. It was out of the way, and the City of Weatherford was not that big. So, it was not heavily used. There were bigger, deeper lakes closer to where most people lived, and they were the ones with most of the amenities and activity areas. Still, for us, it was a great find.
The water was as clear as a swimming pool. It was so clear and clean; I could swim underwater with my eyes open and see well enough to adjust my waterskis or untangle the rope without ducking my head or lifting the rope out of the water. So, when I decided to visit the lake, I headed there with anticipation and memories.
After my visit, the answer to the title above was clear. Yes, I knew the lake would be different. I researched it not long before and found it had a park, a marina, and homes around it, all of which I expected. Progress happens, and some people love to live on or near the water. Still, it was a bit disappointing.
No, it was more than a bit disappointing. I drove entirely around the lake, looking for a place to stop. I wanted to take a picture or spend a minute gazing at the place where I’d had so much fun all those years ago. Sadly, lake access for people like me is limited to trespassing, the marina, or Weatherford Lake Park.
That is the only park unless I missed something. It is on the northeast edge of the lake, and it is as far from the dam as they could go and still call it Lake Weatherford Park. It is also about as scenic as the edge of a swamp.
Yes, open water was visible, but mostly the park is on shallow water covered in lily pads and surrounded by trash trees. However, there is a “boardwalk” over the water one can use to get an up-close look at the swampy part.
Later, I discovered the “boardwalk” is something of which Weatherford is very proud. On that day, in my frame of mind, it looked like a bridge over nothing, leading to nowhere.**
The saddest part of the experience was the water. I should not have been surprised because this is Texas. Many lakes are shallow and fed by water sources that bring dirt and debris every rainy season. The beautiful blue water from my youth only lives on in my memory.
Was it worth it? Yes, to a degree. It was nostalgic to visit a place my family enjoyed so much in the years we were a family instead of a clan divided. It was nice to drive around the twisty little road next to the lake and see the homes and small developments. Living on a lake has always been an unfulfilled dream, and it is nice to see others living their dreams.
Still, as the saying goes, you can’t go home again. Nothing there was the same, and my memories are all I have from those years. What more do any of us have but our memories?
We may have pictures or mementos of past times. We might have stories we can share with others such as this, but what matters is our memories. This little excursion helped me realize how special those memories can be.
*My brother and me, no idea who the young lady was. **To be fair, I have seen pictures of the boardwalk area when it looked much nicer than the day I visited.
© oneoldcop – 2021
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Your post really resonated with me – hit ‘home’ so to speak. Thank you for writing it.
The nomadic lifestyle is definitely not limited to the deserts of the Middle East. I recently sat down and tried to work out exactly how many places I lived growing up. I came up with minimum 40 towns/cities (sometimes living at places more than once), 20 + states, & 3 countries (US, Mexico, Canada) – all by the time I was 18.
Mine was a traumatic and very dysfunctional childhood. We led the nomadic lifestyle because my mother was a grifter. We were, quite literally, staying one step ahead of the law. There were a couple times when the law caught up.
Having said that – the lessons learned were invaluable.
I haven’t really tried to go ‘home’ again in the way that you speak of because there was no home. Home is wherever the people I love live.
I get you. My dad was a grifter of sorts. Kept it legal, but was always selling wild dreams of one sort or another. Cost a number of folks money over the years. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the excellent post and on taking us bake in time. Reminiscing can be fun, but we are inclined to only remember the good parts and that can be disappointing when revisiting an old hangout. Some years ago I returned to my childhood home in Sussex, England, and that was some 5o years later. Amazing, but I recognized everything instantly and very little had changed. I think that the English are far more interested in keeping things much as they have always been, and maybe that is something to do with their long history. The newer parts of the world seem to think that change is inevitable and we should all embrace it. Something new or different is not necessarily better, although many seem to think this. Keep those interesting posts coming.
Regards, Phil at http://knowledge-data.net
Hey! Missed your comment somehow, and just found it. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with your thoughts on the English. Had the opportunity to play some rugby and travel a bit in England and Wales in the late 80s. Some of the places I visited or saw as we traveled looked as if they had not changed in centuries, and I am not speaking of historical sites. I found that somewhat reassuring in a way. It is nice to know you can return to a place and the odds are it has not changed since your last visit. Thanks again.
I liked your post. 2 weeks ago I took my wife & daughter to one of my 1971-72 nomad residences. My childhood was a nomad one too, with a traveling “construction superintendent” father. It did not look good he same, but remnants of the past were still visible; concrete patio that made no sense why it was like that today, grassy park was smaller than I remembered, but still fond memories, like where I got hit by a car while waiting for the school bus! Thanks for your memories.
Thanks for sharing yours. Moving around a lot was fun in some ways, but I am envious occasionally when someone is reminiscing about friends they’ve known since grade school of before.