You Can Go Home Again…

You can go home again…Even if it means driving past your old house all creepy like. 

I live in Madison which is really close to Milwaukee; however, Milwaukee could be another state or country considering how many times we go back for a visit. This past week I had an opportunity to visit my old stomping grounds in full force. My youngest was invited to a Bar Mitzvah of a really good friend from camp. Aside from the fact that camp friends are special and we had nothing going on that weekend, the Bar Mitzvah itinerary was too good, too sentimental and too close to home to be true! So like Dora without the bangs I took the map embedded within my heart and soul, my backpack –  which will always be insatiably full and somewhat of a nudnik– and drove my son and his buddy into my past.

The Bar Mitzvah Service took place in what is now a Jewish place of worship, but what used to be a restaurant where I bussed tables and hosted hungry customers for three out of my four years in high school.  After embarrassing my son with the stories I told the security guard we entered the building. Like in a sci-fi film the rewind button went haywire. I was dressed like a penguin in suspenders and a pleated, white starched button-down shirt holding a tray bigger than my whole body and praying I would not pour lipstick stained water with drenched lemons all over the tables in section one. I remembered the college age hostess with great legs who always hated her boyfriends and the hilarious sous-chefs who always gave me samples on the sly; I remember telling my dad I was working a night shift so I could go out with friends without parental supervision (very very grounded after that!) and I remember coming home at night with feet as swollen as a Scotch-Brite heavy duty kitchen sponge! I loved that place as much as I hated smelling like a moldy dish rag after a long shift. The woman greeting guests and guiding men to sit on the left and women to sit on the right was not impressed with my superfluous gushing..Time to move on.

The house in which I grew up was right next door, and though the residents of the home did not respond to my letter requesting short term access to their privacy and life I drove by anyway – very slowly. The walls of this home saw, heard, listened, comforted, hurt and protected every inch of who I am today. After lap three I stopped at the foot of the driveway and stared hard at the globe, the beacon, that was my night light for almost 18 years. I thanked the globe for keeping my head on straight and drove down the long, winding path of Lake Drive. I could drive this road with my eyes closed. I drove past the homes of my childhoodfriends one by one and let the memories of our youth flood my head. From Bayside to Shorewood the documentary of “The Ghost of Suburbia Past” was written in full force – onward I went – footsteps on the map.

I went directly to a hotel called Drury Plaza Hotel – (I mean, Come on!) where I scooped up my adorable camp friend coincidentally visiting during the same weekend and doused our eggs and coffee with tears and laughter.  I loved visiting my sister and chatting amongst the hipsters next to the gorgeous theater where I had the honor of singing “Matchmaker” 19 times in a row and decided I almost had enough of the ghosts; my head was getting dizzy. I don’t know if Dora ever jumped off her map, but I was ready to catapult myself like Mary Poppins – outta there!

The finale of the evening was dropping the kids off at the party in the club where my father was Doc, Bumi and golfer extraordinaire. We never got two steps inside before my dad was greeted with a smile and a hug or handshake. One of my last memories of my mother came from inside this place where she was all decked out in fishnet tights and a top hat singing “Magic To Do” from Pippin in a talent show. Before she began her song she stopped the band, looked into the audience and said, ”Hi Jessie” and waved. I am still giddy from that moment. So as I walked the hallways of this old building, still smelling as it did when I was young and very much in need of an electrical cultural cardioversion, I caught tears on my tongue missing everyone.

We are the map makers now.

Will our children come back to the house in which they were raised and drive creepily past with heart strings pulsing? I hope so, and then I hope they drive back home.

4 thoughts on “You Can Go Home Again…

  1. I remember these surroundings vividly. And you never really leave “home”, it stays somewhere in you even as you move away from it at lightning speed.

    Liked by 1 person

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