02 June 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog

That is often the question. To blog or not to blog? What shall be said/written? What am I thinking about today? What do my loyal followers expect from me to bright their day? And do I have it in me to punch the keys?

This is the silly season: between the end of the spring semester (I'm a professor in real life so my circadian rhythms are set to semester intervals) and the start of the summer semester (for those poor souls who must teach during the summer for whatever personally hellish reasons they may have). To escape the silly season, I usually find myself traveling. Often I travel to actually find myself. Sometimes I forget where I have left myself, so it's an interesting adventure looking for me. And frequently when I find myself, I don't really want it.

This summer is different, however. Shortly after embarking on this summer's travel (having many highway miles to contemplate the meaning of the "meaning of life"), I came up with a name for this Interstate phenomena. I am calling this exercise in fuel consumption my "farewell tour" for reasons only I know for sure. It's not such a big secret, actually.  I lived in the northeast for seven years. Then, while wishing to continue living up in the northeast (somewhere, anywhere), I was lured to the hot, dusty, dry midwest to continue drawing a paycheck. Yet there is nostalgia--painful, bittersweet, warm-hearted, soft-fuzzy nostalgia for the places I've left.

As fate would have it (and with today's technology one may easily tweak fate to one's heart's content), I have traveled backwards in time as I have traveled physically, geographically eastward. I have revisited the places I called home once upon a time. And now? They have changed--so much so that I can recognize them only by digging deep in my bag of memories, comparing a fading image with the concrete reality before me. There is no feeling welling up, no rush of pleasure, no sense of home sweet home again. I might as well have stayed home--in my new home in the midwest.

Last summer, as I made the migration west, I waved farewell. Yet it did not take. Back again, I find I am a stranger, as much of a stranger as if I had never lived there. I've been forgotten as completely as though I'd never existed. And that is the melancholy mood that sneaks upon an unwary traveler when he dares to presume that anything, anyplace, anyone ever matters. That I once existed in a certain place has no meaning now for anyone in that place. I can walk the streets without wearing dark glasses and I am not bothered or asked for an autograph. Even if I introduce myself as someone who once lived there, I only receive a response akin to "Oh, yeah?" Is it really so hard to believe?

Alas, memory, nostalgia, home . . . just concepts, metaphors, words that act as placeholders in the mind, and suffer not the great institutions known as scrapbooks, photo albums, and memoirs.


  1. Stephen - I love that post! What a good read that was!

  2. Thanks, Connie! I was going for "melancholy Dane" but the Danish part is kinda difficult to do.

  3. Stephen you wrote to my heart. I moved away from my homeland too, and upon my return visit had similar feelings.

    Your writing is beautiful. Sadness sometimes brings out the best in authors. I suppose it is the humbleness of it, and the honesty.

    Hope you find your home,

  4. Thanks for your comments, Danielle.

    If "home is where the heart is," then mine is in a lockbox, lost in the mail somewhere.

    We are all traveling on a rocky road, so a large cone of Rocky Road often helps!