Playing a home-and-home / by Josh Trudell

You can't go home again. - Thomas Wolfe Who says you can't go home? - Jon Bon Jovi

After moving thousands of miles from where I grew up, I've found home has several meanings.

There's the home where I live now. There's home in the sense of the region I grew up in.

And then there's the actual home I grew up in - a cabin deep in the woods of northern New Hampshire. Only one or two of my oldest friends have ever seen that house - we moved when I was 12, and the memory most of my high school friends have of my house is the place we moved to (which hosted a tremendous high school graduation party, but that's a story for another day).

This house was our first home. My father, uncles and grandfather carved a road into the woods and built all the homes on it (except for the newest one, which my aunt lives in). My mother and father built this house when they were young - my dad laughs as he builds in yellowed Kodachromes.

I'm home this week - visiting my mother, and helping my sister with her wedding plans. She's getting married tomorrow, and the chaos has been, well, chaotic. But it's (mostly) been the happy kind of chaos.

I escaped for a bit yesterday afternoon and drove out to the old house, along winding gravel roads and through thick pine forests. The trees looked bigger and the road smaller than I remembered them.

I've still got family on this road, but that house - sold, then abandoned - is going to rack and ruin. Some holes in the roof are covered with blue and gray tarpaulin - others sag open, filled with leaves and pine needles.

A family of satellite dishes is aging in the front yard - two small ones, and one big, black pterodactyl - all postdating our time there. Some goober cut down the giant pine tree in the back yard that I used for a rope swing, dropping the top of the tree on the barn and crushing the side where Mom raised rabbits and pigs. The side that held cows and horses is still standing, but time and weather have taken their toll on the glass.

(I still remember my dad climbing that tree to hang the rope - now I can imagine him ripping into the joker who misplaced the tree's landing spot. "Pretty friggin' poor," he'd say.)

Old nails still jut out of a beam in a shed where I'd hang a punching bag after watching one of the Rocky movies on one of our three channels. A section of wall on the front porch is still scarred from where I was careless with the front porch swing while daydreaming of Prydain or Narnia.

Inside, ticks scurry about, looking for legs to latch onto. (There was an Army-style scrubdown after we got back to the "new" house.) The bookshelves in my old bedroom are empty, with only dust where my pre-teenager baseball cards, books and music once were.

The strongest memories are around the kitchen island - made by my dad, a thick block of wood, dark with oil and Crisco before people worried about cholesterol and grooved from mom's kitchen knife peeling vegetables she just picked out of her garden (with my help).

The wall where I raced Tyco cars with my uncle - the hallway where dad and I would wrestle - the fireplace mom and dad built with granite rocks and's been 25 years since I've been in this house, but every piece still holds a story.