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  • Writer's pictureJeb Brack

Home Again Syndrome

You know the old saying, "Home is where the heart is." (There's another old saying, "You can't go home again", so by the associative property you can't go where your heart is. QED. Thanks again for nothing, English language.)

Fact is, you can go home again, and it is much more than where your heart is. Here are five symptoms of Home Again Syndrome.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

You're driving back to your hometown. On the way you notice a housing development where a field used to be. There's a cute bistro that was once a redneck biker bar. A mall in place of that row of trash-infested vacant lots. And you react with white hot fury. "I remember when this was all farmland!" you rant in a perfect imitation of your grandfather. "They've driven out the working man and replaced him with commerce! It's an outrage!" you storm, until you find yourself going to the multiplex one afternoon with your folks and having dinner where the Pioneer House used to be.


The more things change, the more they stay the same--except the only things that stay the same in your hometown are the things you never liked in the first place. Despite all the new amenities and conveniences that have appeared since you left, you still think of the old burg as a hick town, nowheres-ville, the ass end of the universe. See? That salvage yard is still the same old eyesore that...hey, where'd it go? They got rid of it so they could build condos?! Blasphemers!

Impromptu Reunions

Nobody attends high school reunions anymore; it's one of the benefits of social media that we can catch up to our classmates from a safe distance. Still, if you return to your ancestral homeland, chances are that you will unexpectedly come face-to-face with someone from your distant past--and it won't be that hot dude you crushed on junior year, it'll be that other guy. You know the one--he dipped snuff in gym class and spit into a cup; he drove a pickup truck on which he had painted the name "Rolling Thunder"; he went to the prom with you.

Say Hello To My Inner Child

You grew up here. Wait, no you didn't. You were a child here, then you left to seek your fortune and became the person you are today, a confident, self-aware, successful person who is defenseless against the psychic thumbprint your hometown left upon you. Plunged back into these semi-familiar surroundings, your brain reverts to old patterns of response and behavior, essentially reducing you to your twelve-year-old self. Tantrum much?


All it takes is a single glimpse of a street, a building, a parking space in a public park and you are suddenly enveloped in a memory so vivid it's like being in the Matrix. You'll find yourself telling your kids, in excited tones, "We were so drunk! I don't know why that cop decided not to haul us in, but we drove off singing and we didn't die!" Because after all, these are experiences you want your own kids to remember someday, when they come back to visit you.

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