You Can't Go Home Again

Yesterday was a day filled with unexpected emotions. Steve and I traveled to Fulton, MO (birthplace of my mom) to attend a reception at a gallery on the campus of William Woods University. First stop was lunch at my dad’s where Karen fixed the best Reuben sandwiches I’d ever eaten. Actually, I didn’t know I’d like a Reuben until Karen made it. Dad was glued to the golf tournament on tv (where Tiger was playing!) and wasn’t coming to the reception. I was a bit peeved with him, but Karen said she was going so I just let the whole thing go.

Steve and I went to Fulton ahead of Karen so we could take a trip around town. Downtown, where I spent my childhood visiting Sault’s Drugstore and Stuart’s bookstore, was looking a bit sad. However, it was Sunday so everything was closed. I noticed that Gidley’s shoes was still there as well as the antique store on the corner so that was comforting. Then we drove by 208 W. 7th Street, former home of my grandparents. Steve parked the car and I looked at the house thinking that it actually looked better than I’d seen it in a long time. Steve suggested we go up to the door and tell the owners the house looked nice. I felt a little weird doing it, but something made me get out of the car and go up to the door. It was when I reached the front door that I had a hard time keeping myself composed. Seeing the plaque declaring the home a Howard Bell historical home just brought back too many memories. Steve rang the bell and a small man answered it. I tried to explain who I was and why I was standing on his porch but I kept getting choked up. I’m sure he thought I was a weirdo. What really struck me was that as soon as he opened the door, I could smell the house and it smelled just like it did when my grandparents lived there. It’s a hard smell to explain but it’s like a mixture of warm wood, old books, wool and mothballs. It made me feel comforted in a weird way. The man didn’t invite us in (and I don’t blame him) but I looked past him and noticed the metallic striped wallpaper was still in the entryway which made me feel good, like a piece of my grandparents was still there. He said he’d lived there about three years and had recently stripped and re-varnished all the floors. I’m sure they were beautiful. I’m glad we didn’t go inside because it would have just been too much for me to see the changes. I prefer to revisit the house in my mind and remember the way it was.

After that, we went to the reception where I discovered that one of my brooches had been displayed incorrectly during the whole show. They had placed it in the case with the pin side up. Full of emotions I just lost it. The curator of the gallery apologized but I felt he was insincere and got even more pissed. Karen arrived and I calmed down by walking the gallery with her and chatting with people I knew. At the end of the event, the curator came up to me and sincerely apologized and said he was very embarrassed it happened. He did point out that the back of the brooch was so beautiful that it was hard to tell the correct side. I guess the double pin stem was too subtle! Anyway, I told him I overreacted a bit and explained what I’d done before attending the show.

After all that I was ready to go home and leave the day and Fulton behind. A quick stop at the Marshall’s Megastore at Lake Ozark gave me some retail therapy and a couple of goodies. All in all, an emotional day and one I don’t wish to repeat any time soon. I guess it’s true, you can’t go home again. Or if you do, it will be very different.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “You Can't Go Home Again

  1. Pamela Witte

    Wow. Mom told me you were furious about the brooch, and I was like, “Tammy? Yelling at someone?” I told her I’d seen you mad, but I’d NEVER seen/heard you yell at someone.
    I know the whole ‘you can’t go back’ feeling. I’ve done that before, but I’ve never been able to knock on the door. How brave of you.
    And I’m being sincere. πŸ™‚

  2. Well, I’m not sure that I was actually “yelling” but I wasn’t using my “inside voice” that’s for sure. I think I scared the poor little student who first heard my exclamations.

    Thanks for thinking I was brave. In hindsight, I don’t think I’d repeat the experience.

  3. Anne

    I’m glad that you satisfied your curiosity but think it’s a good thing they didn’t invite you in – I prefer to remember the house with Grammie and Keck’s furnishings. That was “home” for me for over 40 years so I’ll just revisit it in my mind. And if the guy at WWU knew it was a pin, how the heck did he think you fastened it? He must be new to jewelry and art is all I can say. Probably also more soothing for you to have Karen there instead of your dad. Just hope the retail therapy made up for the rest of the day. πŸ™‚

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