Can You Go Home Again?


Expressways and bridges lead to the Northway, followed by narrow winding roads. A lone blinking street light in the country hamlet just south of our destination signals memories of my grandparents, town Fourth of July celebrations, and trick-or-treating.

Fields Leading to Lake Champlain

Every mile between town and my home is as comfortable as a favorite pair of slippers–having walked and biked that path countless times. I take in the Lake Champlain waters, stone walls lining open fields, and my family’s church.

Home again.

Mom’s Plants

I step into the house where my parents raised five children, where they lived, loved, and laughed together until she was taken from us far too soon. Although it’s been over a decade since she’s graced this house in human form, it’s filled with her spirit. Every room in the house reminds me of her, and I’m enveloped in warmth. I miss her so much, but when I’m in this house, it’s almost as if she never left.

Hide and Seek, anyone?

Of course, my childhood home holds a myriad of other memories. My little brother and I used to play inside the living room closet and Mom would warn us about pinched fingers. We’d peek around the stairway corner to spy on adults on Christmas Eve. And how I loved to sit on those stairs, my skinny legs over the edge as I read book after book.

An unlikely reading spot

I’m glad we traveled north this weekend. Sometimes I need to go back in order to move forward again. I love my Long Island home, with its ocean waters, vineyards, and NYC all within a short distance, but I will forever have a soft spot for the Adirondack Mountains, with its evergreens, birch trees, and rugged hillsides. Like my wise brother-in-law has been known to say, “You can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl.”

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia Yager Delagrange
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 21:28:28

    What an absolutely lovely story about your childhood home. I loved reading it. Truly enjoyable. I felt like I was with you all the way. And the pictures are so beautiful. What a cool place to grow up, Jolyse.
    Patti

  2. alicamckennajohnson
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 23:04:43

    So beautiful! I can’t go home again- we moved around a bunch when I was a kid- five different states. And my mom passed away years ago- so the closest I can get is my Grandparents house in Nebraska- where they raised 5 girls.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Feb 22, 2012 @ 10:58:44

      I’m blessed in that way, I guess, having one home for my entire childhood. That I still can go back to visit makes it even better. Thanks for sharing a different perspective. You must have so many memories with all that traveling. Do you feel it made you more resilient or more flexible or more desirous of setting down roots?

      • alicamckennajohnson
        Feb 22, 2012 @ 12:58:33

        Good questions- I don’t know, As an adult I’ve lived in one place only and part of that is my sons father lives here, but also we don’t have the money to move. However when my hubby goes into one of his- I want to move- phases I don’t feel scared, just more practical about it. Who knows if hubby ever had a real plan and money I might freak out!

  3. Cheryl
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 08:02:59

    love it…seems as though I have been there myself!

  4. Catie Rhodes
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 11:52:29

    I think I would have a hard time leaving such a beautiful place. I am a country girl who suffers in the city. However, I am not sure I would move back to East Texas. Jobs that pay a living wage are rare in those parts. If income came from somewhere other than the immediate vicinity, I’d love own a house on Lake Sam Rayburn. I can just picture the dock at the back of my house leading out to that massive lake. 😀

    Great post. Your memories made a lump form in my throat.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Feb 22, 2012 @ 14:31:10

      Your dream home sounds perfect, Catie.

      I left the Adirondacks after college, itching to see the bigger world with my best friend and love beside me. Being the fourth child of five, I suppose I thought that was necessary. I’m content where we ended up (for this portion of our lives), but I love going back and am able to truly appreciate everyone and everything when I return.

      If income weren’t a factor, I’d be a Key Wester though. Maybe then I’d be able to convince my extended family to visit me more often. 🙂

  5. Jan Romes
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 15:50:18

    Hi Jolyse! Loved your story about home 🙂 I especially loved that you said sometimes you need to go back so you can go forward again! I feel the same way. Sometimes I drive the short distance to the town I grew up in and walk by the house that was once home. I trek around the old neighborhood and let the memories surface and the joy fill my soul again! Thanks so much for your blog post. It made me smile and made me tear up as well!

  6. Marcia
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 17:44:30

    Love this, Jolyse! The Adirondack mountain area is beautiful and I’ve spent many happy hours enjoying it. Lake Champlain is one of the prettiest lakes. Been there a few times as my brother-in-law’s mom still lives there.
    I think you can and should go home, if you’re able. My hometown in Central NY would be nothing more than a nice mid-size city, but for me it’s home–it’s where my family and friends are, and i know all the pretty places and best restaurants. It holds so many wonderful memories,I couldn’t leave it forever. I’d be happy spending 6 months in Key West and 6 months in Syracuse-the best of both worlds!
    Sweet remembrance of your hometown, Jolyse 🙂

  7. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 22:17:02

    That looks so beautiful and peaceful. I would definitely return there. I can’t really go home again. It was sold quite a while ago and the town I’m originally from has changed dramatically I feel not for the better. Most of the businesses I grew up with are gone too.

    Thanks for sharing such nice thoughts and pictures.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Feb 24, 2012 @ 10:32:31

      Hi Donna. Thanks for stopping by. It’s interesting that what I hated most about my hometown (it never changes) is exactly what makes me so happy when I return. I’m sorry you cannot return home. I’m hopeful that our home will stay in the family for a long time to come.

  8. Tuere Morton
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 07:33:40

    Looks like you grew up in an enchanting place, Jolyse. Not only CAN you go home again, but you SHOULD. Although, I only live about 15 minutes from where I grew up, I behave like it’s so far away and don’t visit enough. But when I do, the nostalgia pleasantly hits me. 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:29:28

      Hi Tuere! We all get wrapped up in our daily lives that sometimes we forget to look back and appreciate where we came from. We had a great time upstate, and I look forward to enjoying the ADKs in the summer weather at our family reunion.

      I’m happy you can return home as often as you like. 🙂

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