Going to visit my Childhood Home–or is it my Elephant’s Graveyard?

I’m leaving town thursday, for five days…Will use someone else’s computer to update here. I’m going home to my Elephant’s Graveyard.

We moved around a lot, when I was a kid, but for the most part I grew up in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon. I’m going back for five days to visit a son, some friends, to go to a high school reunion gathering, but most of all to make contact with Oregon itself, especially its physical presence; its air, its landscape, the whole sensory feel of the place. Of course, much of it has been obscured, even blotted out, by the cancerous proliferation of franchises. But I know where to go to find traces of the countryside I knew as a boy.

I’m a middle aged guy, following a primeval impulse, possibly an instinct, to go home. I visit my parents’ graves when there, in a very charming country cemetery, and I intend to inquire about burial space for myself and my wife (I want to reserve it–not occupy it any time soon).

My wife Micky and I research real estate in Oregon–the living kind, not the after living kind–as part of a vague plan to retire there. There’s a sort of “final migration to the Elephant’s Graveyard” feel to these trips, though I won’t be actually moving house to go back there anytime soon.

I didn’t have all that happy a childhood in Oregon, yet I’m drawn to return. I’ve observed the phenomenon in all kinds of people. They crave a return to the environs in which they grew up. They go home to retire, theoretically to live…but, prompted by some hidden part of the mind, they also seem to go home to die.

Me, I’m going to smell the air, take a walk on a gravel road. (I’ll show up at that high school reunion but as I was the Chieftain of School Weirdos there I don’t expect a warm welcome.) I am not gifted with a deep, clear memory of much of my life. Partly this is because I’m a person who lived a good deal of his youth in his own imagination; partly it may be that I did some damage to those pathways, in past episodes of over indulgence. To some extent that forgetfulness is a gift; in other ways it leaves me feeling rootless, mere flotsam adrift in Time…

I’m hoping to reconnect with the happier moments of my childhood–which were usually spent alone, in the woods, the fields, the farm roads, of the Oregon countryside.

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