About a million years ago, I read a Peanuts cartoon quoting Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.” Perhaps fifteen years later, I discovered Wolfe in a lit class, and read Look Homeward, Angel. Eventually, I also got through You Can’t Go Home Again, along with a few others. A troubled genius, Wolfe was also a pretty great read – thanks in large part to that greatest of editors, Max Perkins.
I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ll be going home soon…well, going back to the city where I grew up, Bristol, CT. It hasn’t been “home” for me for a while. In fact, it’s fair to say that my adopted home of Tampa, Florida – where I’ve lived since 1994 – is more in my comfort zone than CT ever was.
Still, there’s a bittersweet aspect to going back to visit the old homestead. Memories that live more in the bones than the brain come to life. Feelings, not thoughts, bubble to the surface. As normal as it is for others, it’s a weird place for me.
So when I sought to book a library event in advance of my return, I wasn’t sure where to go. The old Bristol Public Library sits at the edge of a small hill in a relatively unpleasant part of town; by contrast, the smaller Manross Library is in Forestville, a sort of Bristol suburb where my father grew up. I’m told it’s in a somewhat nicer neighborhood than the main branch. I’ve been away so long, I wouldn’t know. I like nicer neighborhoods, so I opted for Manross.
There’s a feeling of “Hometown Boy Makes Good” in this whole endeavor of scheduling a book signing for myself. Calls and emails to the local newspaper, social media posts inviting old classmates to drop by. I’m looking forward to it.