Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

This New Home Is Also Old and the Last

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

This New Home Is Also Old and the Last

Article excerpt

Sometimes in life you just have to challenge Thomas Wolfe's proposition that "You can't go home again."

True, the novelist had it mostly right. "You can't go back home to your childhood," because for one thing your pants won't fit. "You can't go back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting," although somebody forgot to tell conservatives.

But you can go back to "places in the country" for the simple reason that this is America, and mobility has been going on since the wagon trains rolled westward, there to be greeted by early Realtors.

And you can go "back to your family" (and friends) if they never left your affections in the first place, assuming they are not long gone from their old haunts. This is the place I find myself in once again.

This leaving and returning is something of a habit with me. I came to Pittsburgh (via long spells in England and Australia), then went to California, then left California and went back to Pittsburgh.

In December, I finally left Pittsburgh to visit Australia and play the grandfather and meet my old mates where I grew up - yet another episode in going home again.

A week ago, I returned from Australia to retire in the area around California's Monterey Peninsula, where once I was editor of The Herald newspaper, which still survives despite whatever I did at the time. It is different now, of course, but who or what isn't?

While death and taxes are said to be the great constants, the process of change deserves equal billing among major facts of the human condition. So does the phenomenon that if a husband has a plan, his wife will think up a better one. (That is the one thing that never changes.)

When it comes to change, the French as usual have an expression for it: Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose - which, as you know, literally means "Give your mistress my best regards," but also has the sense of the more things change, the more they remain the same.

This has proved true wherever I have happened to go home. As I have reported intermittently over the past few months, Australia is in a constant state of flux but is gloriously the same, no worries, mate. …

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