Wednesday, May 21, 2014


   Though he meant it differently, Thomas Wolfe's title You Cant Go Home Again has been nagging around the edge of my mind. A deeper dive into that in a moment, but I wonder if some of you don't find yourself wrestling with Boomer Blues, prompted by the signals that life moves without regard to our wish that good things not change? 
   Here's the trail of this chain of thoughts;  We're back on the West coast after a couple of magnificent weeks with eldest Kristin and her friend Richard.  Magnificent because we cherish family time and because hospitality, weather and relaxation were extraordinary.
    Reading, relaxing, napping and not always in that order.

     The tropical clime, warm trade-wind breezes, balmy evenings and lack of drought created a comfortable cocoon from which to cogitate and reflect.

    It struck me that I've adopted a Cambria drought tolerant ethic. A quick and passing tropical drenching was a magnificent symphony of senses. But I felt guilt at showering at length or watching plants being watered. 

 Naples is nothing if not elegant and caloric. This calorie issue is a fault line of concern for a boomer jock.

   A jaunt to Ft. Lauderdale between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway provoked thoughts about  extraordinary wealth and spending of some of the 1%. For a journalist of Scot's heritage, that can inspire what is a full on rumble of pondering and argument.
   But it was the return to our beloved Sanibel Island that drove me into the land of the Thomas Wolfe -You Can't Go Home Again permutation.  Sanibel has always been a special home, a place of great joy and celebration, setting of two of my novels and where we once owned a home.
     We'd visit these rare Gulf beaches, seeking refuge from winter. Our girls grew from tots to mature women, shelling with their mother, building sandcastles with their dad and preparing for dinner at our special places like Jean Paul's and The Mad Hatter. Family vacations came at the end of month long countdowns, filled with anticipation.
    Getting to the island, a rare east west barrier reef island that is mostly wildlife preserve, was always a tonic for the soul. It always meant renewal and celebration with friends.
    But this year was different. The joy and luster was missing. Certainly the serious health concerns of dearest friends, the complexities of aging and the changes wrought by time imposed themselves.
  As we strolled the expansive beach, pausing where we spent so many springs in celebration, it was not joy, but a sadness over a mysterious loss that I felt.  
    Perhaps the Pacific serenade of my Cambria has weakened the magic song of the Gulf. The sun is bright still, the colors are vivid, and it is more green than my California when our sparse rainy season ends, but it just isn't the same.
   But neither am I.  I am older, my children are women, too many friends face health issues, some are gone. The career I took respite from on the Gulf beaches, is past and now seems of much less value that I once gave it. Life's order of things has changed.
   I wondered if I was slipping into a melancholy or depression. Was I somehow cheating the zest of life? No, I argued with myself. Concern for friends, sadness at loss, the inexorable movement of time are all part of the journey. There too is the truth that we cannot go back, we  do not recapture youth. And thus, memory is a gift. That is how we visit where time does no harm. 
    Our task then is to create new memories, as vibrant as we may. In that way the good old days remain good though old and as my Island friend Dave said, "we celebrate each day."
See you down the trail.


  1. Ah yes. The vagaries of advancing age, the onslaught of which we cannot stop, only eventually to accept. Sadly we must all learn to live with it. But it brings with it a presence of calm languor. Enjoy it, my friend, as you continue "down the trail".

  2. For what its worth Tom, I get that way every spring. Soon enough I get over it and back I go to living the good life here in Cayucos, CA

  3. Boy did these words ring TRUE.

    Thanks for taking time to express what is rumbling around in me.

    The arrogance of our generation is most vividly captured in our self perception of super-immortality. Not only would we live forever, but we would stop time itself. We would force time to yield, just as we overpowered anything that got in the way of our massive numbers or attempted to obstruct our sacrifice-less coming of age. The depth of our regret is not yet totaled.

  4. With age I'm noticing that so many things I focused on in my youth just don't seem to matter anymore. I always manage to keep busy but sometimes I wonder what the point is. When I was younger I felt I had all the answers. Now my head is mostly filled with questions.

  5. In my dreams I can still dribble to my left, a crossover step then up, my finger clear the rim I send the ball down.
    Yeah, memories. A sustaining necessity.
    I'm sorry for your losses, they come to us all.

  6. So strange that you wrote this. Yesterday I had an hour long phone conversation with a guy I've been friends with since we were 6th graders. Every breath he takes is a wheeze. The conversation was Bill talking about coming to the end of his road and there wasn't much time left. I was telling him about starting to play hockey again and how much I like the new skates, you bake for a better fit. He hasn't been diagnosed with anything, he won't go because the doc will tell that he has to stop smoking 5-6 cigars a day. This is a strange age. My judge grandfather retired at 71 and a year later went back to work as a fill-in judge because he couldn't stand hanging around the house. It was a perfect job for him, maybe 20 weeks of work a year.

  7. Eloquent thoughts, Tom, and somehow comforting. It was nice to cross paths with you and Lana on the way back to our California homes, especially as we were returning from my 50th Reunion at my college, Oglethorpe University, where we momentarily scratched back some terrific memories. Maybe we can't go home again, but we can play with it for awhile.

  8. Tom, thanks for sharing this moment with the world. Moving and honest. A perfect way to start my day.