We recently needed to return to the State of Rhode Island for a funeral (yes, we’ve reached this stage of life) and took the opportunity to drive by places where we’d owned homes. While the last few places were always great places to live, for me at least, wandering through Cumberland is where I most felt like a return to home.
This is a bit strange since I haven’t lived there since 1976(except for a brief interlude in 1979 with a fellow EPPD Officer who owned a duplex near the Boys Club.)
I think it is the depth and breadth of those earliest memories from the age of six or so where things become imprinted in one’s brain. Roads I haven’t traveled in decades still felt like old friends. Places have changed, but it still seems as if they hadn’t.
It is a difficult feeling to express: unfamiliar familiarity, unchanged changes, unaltered differences, a confusing mix of nostalgia and forgetfulness swathed in the fog of time. This time of the year was always one of mixed feelings. Summer was over, full Fall flourishes fading, winter hinting at its arrival with each leave rustling gust. It was always a time when the past and the future fought for dominance. The grey and brown replaced the once vibrant new growth greens of Spring and Summer.
But it was still a joyful experience in the embrace of the once and still familiar places. They (those proverbial pronouncers of wisdom) say you can never go home. And I would agree there is a truth in that. Cumberland was where I set my roots in life, a tap root reaching deep into the earth, yet the branches have taken me far and wide.
I will always consider it home, but it is unlikely I will ever live there again. And that is okay with me. There is a big world out there. Those roots planted long ago remain strong in their connection to my “homeland,” but they’ve given me the freedom to journey far.
If I were ever to find myself homeless, all I need do is find my way back-—walking if I had to, I’ve done longer—and I would be home. I wouldn’t have it any other way.