Friday, November 12, 2010

Whose says you can't go home again?

Recently, I took my wife and children to visit my family in Ohio. This is always quite the family adventure as you can imagine spending nearly eight hours in a vehicle with a two year old and a four year old continuously asking, “Are we there yet?” Fortunately, times have changed since my childhood. I remember sitting in the back seat of a van with no air conditioning with my brother and nothing to do other than counting license plates from different states and play with our Star Wars figures. Too often, during a long trip, my brother would fall asleep, lean over and accidentally touch me in some manner, leaving me with only one alternative . . . to punch him in the arm as hard as I possibly could manage. This often led to yelling from the front seat with the clear threat, “Don’t make me pull this car over!” Today, my children have toys like hand-held DVD players and video games, interactive toys, and hard top coloring boards.

During our visit, we experienced the ordinary adventures any sleepover with family would include; boys sleeping in the basement, watching movies and staying up late, going to Bounce World which is filled with bouncy inflatable’s for the children (and maybe the adults) to play in, and the always entertaining trip to my home town.

To return to your home town after many years usually raises a number of emotions. Memories come flooding back as you see familiar places and people and you are always surprised at how different things look and simultaneously, how they haven’t changed at all.

Seeing your family after an extended absence is always an exciting event, but this visit was even more exciting. You see, my brother and I were helping my mother winterize her home and in the process, cleaning out some items that needed to be taken to dump. In the midst of the process, we found some ancient, buried treasures in the attic. A couple of old football helmets we used when we played tackle football in the yard (I can’t believe we didn’t suffer any permanent brain damage . . . although my wife may feel that this would explain a lot) were buried in an old bucket, along with dozens of hard-hat baseball helmets you could win at the local amusement park speed pitch. But the real treasure laid a little deeper in the bucket – a Darth Vader carry case filled with the old Star Wars action figures we played with in that van on the long road trips decades ago. They were in almost the same condition as when we originally put them in that case more than 25 years ago; it was like a time capsule. Only the laser guns and light sabers were missing (which I immediately, as if suddenly returning to my childhood, blamed on my brother).

We took this case to our sons (who are both 4 years old) and opened the treasure as if it was a chest of gold coins. To my surprise, the boys tore into them like they were winning lottery tickets; they loved the playing with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker almost as much as we did when we first brought them home from the department store.

This trip home was tremendously successful. I got to see my childhood home, visit with family, and take a stroll down memory lane. Even better, I had the experience of watching my son’s face as he excitedly played with my childhood toys and gave them a second life . . . who said you can’t go home again?

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