A former friend-and colleague- from my media days, Facetimed me today. His brother passed this week and though they had not spoken in 25 years, the early memories were clear.
He was back home in NY. The next town over from where I grew up. Middle and Upper Middle class. We went to summer camp, private colleges and our families had good, decent jobs, but not big corporate jobs. THOSE people lived in Locust Valley or certain parts of Great Neck or Roslyn. For those not from NY, it’s Brentwood, Grosse Pointe, Westchester, Newton, Bala Cynwyd etc. We were comfortable so we could not complain.
Back to Facetime. My friend was driving around where we both grew up, within 5 miles of each other and he asked where could he go for a drink. The places I mentioned, closed when Disco died, but with a few exceptions, the streets don’t change. He told me of driving roads I was familiar with, how some shopping centers had been updated, but to us, they still looked the same. Just more neon.
I suggested calling old friends-and old girlfriends-from our youth but cautioned him they were now in their early 60’s and may not be willing to go out after 9. Fact is, on my last trip to LA, Calabasas in fact, we met for martinis at a time when most of our generation is asleep.
As he spoke, I realized you CAN go home again. No. So-and-so does not live around the corner anymore. The parents may have passed in the last few years but unless a nuclear bomb obliterated our home towns, they remain, basically the same.
So, what does ‘going home’ mean? Well, to me, it means seeing places that are familiar. The people are now ghosts-not literally, usually- because new people live where we lived. Played where we played. Made out where we made out. Drank-and smoked-where we smoked.
Seeing him broadcast live on Long Island, where it is probably a DMV violation, I got a sense that he wanted to return to a place where families stayed together, siblings and kids didn’t die, no one got shot and we stayed out after the street lights went on. If I sound like an old fart, well that really is YOUR problem, not mine.
I live in 2018 but tonight, I was back in the 70’s. My friend took me there. I have gone there in my memory. Through the magic of digital life, I was ‘there’ for real.
Going home again. Not the reality but the dreams that ground us to where we are, and more importantly, where we came from.
I wish I was there to drive with him at this critical juncture. But merely seeing his face and hearing his voice, he gave me a gift. Reminding me of a time of innocence. A guide. A compass. And for that, I am thankful and I send my love to him.