Can We Go Home Now

In this song, the protagonist croons like a sullen child, “Can we go home now?”

We’re all feeling a little this way. It started four years ago when Trump got elected. Wake up, we told ourselves, wake up, this is a bad dream.

But it’s not.

We’re all feeling a little this way. It started four years ago when Trump got elected. Wake up, we told ourselves, wake up, this is a bad dream.

But it’s not.

And as the water gets warmer and warmer, we ask, “Can we go home now?” But the water just keeps getting warmer.

Children in cages. Reality-denial. Coronavirus. Protests. Police Riots. Urban arson. Wildfires. Hurricanes.

Can we go home now?

I’ve had way too much screen time lately, between online meetings at work and chasing the news and the Tour de France and the start of football season. My head is spinning which could be a result of all this screen time. Or it could be an indication of an ear infection. The world gently rocks – most of the time except when it violently rocks – and I ask again, “Can we go home now?”

This song strikes a chord with me. A feeling that I felt as a child when I had started yet another school. The anxiety of walking in the door of a school where no one knew me, where I would immediately be judged by the first impression I made. Where I didn’t know how to make friends. Where I was afraid to speak in class, afraid to correct how the teacher pronounced my name, afraid that I was going to dress wrong, afraid to raise my hand and ask – in front of all those other kids – whether I could use the bathroom. Afraid that whatever feeling of relief, of happiness, would be fleeting. One day, exhausted by it all, I came home and asked my mom if we could move again. I felt if I could just have another chance, a clean slate, maybe I could make it work next time.

Can we go home now?

Whenever my dad got a weekend off from work, my parents threw us into the squeaky cab-over camper and drove away from Tucson, meandering down long dirt roads, following snaky blue lines on the map towards places called Paradise. Paradise Lake (a dusty campground along a tiny reservoir), Paradise Mountain (a dusty mountain with no water). This is part of what kept us moving from town to town, in search of some paradise, some home. Long after I left home, they kept searching, separately, Dad in Turkey and Panama. Mom in Ethiopia, Thailand, Paris, Egypt. It’s the same thing that kept Mom tinkering with her house, adding a deck, a garage, a new bedroom suite. It just never felt quite present.

Can we go home now?

Tired of my job, tired of the city, I decided to leave. I flew to San Francisco, picked up a rental car, and started driving North on Highway 1, searching for the place I wanted to live. I revisited places that I remembered from my childhood, beautiful places that now lie in ashes. But no place was quite right. They just didn’t feel like home. I finally reached my mother’s land outside the town where I had gone to high school. I drove up to Mom’s house that her friend was renting; she was expecting me, I thought, but she wasn’t home so I ended up sleeping in the car, curled up with one of our cats that had adopted a neighbor after my mother’s departure. In the morning, I drove into town, got breakfast and washed in a restroom sink, and waited for a bookstore to open so I could buy something to read while waiting for the woman to return. It occurred to me that, of all the places I had driven, this felt the most like home. But I didn’t belong there any more than I did anywhere else.

Can we go home now?

The protagonist croons that line and the antagonist drones back, on a single note, long and drawn out, “We. Are. Home.”

There is no going home. This is the world we live in. This is the world we must accept because you cannot change reality until you accept reality. You can dream of something better, but you can get there only when you start where you are.

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