You can never go home again is, conceptually, something that I think about a lot. I moved to Philadelphia in August of 1999, sight unseen, and began setting up a life away from everything and everyone I had ever known. I was 25 at the time- which seems like a lifetime ago- and the me who followed some damn-fool notion to move 1,054 miles northeast has aged and greyed and despite superficial resemblances is little more than memories and old photographs tucked into honest to god photo albums in my closets.
A few weeks ago I challenged Thomas Wolfe’s edict and went home again; another trip down South to reconnect with old friends, visit the P5 and to record a few oral histories for my various archival projects, some of which may never end up publicly shared but were, at least, captured for posterity. It’s always so weird going ‘home’- the South in general is pleasantly and endearingly weird and the longer I live up North the weirder and more magical the South seems when I find myself visiting. I had very little time to think about the differences with almost every waking moment spoken for between recording the interviews, meeting up with loved ones and doing my best to process everything.
One of my histories was with a retired body pierced named Mike Natali; formerly of the Silver Anchor and Bravo! Body Jewelry companies and a pretty influential part of my mid/late teens and early 20s. I hadn’t seen Mike in almost two decades, but after a few minutes in his Tampa apartment we found ourselves easing back into the old days via stories from our shared relationship with Jack Yount and the ‘middle school’ era of the western piercing scene; it was really the first time I’ve done an oral history with someone who’s history was so closely intwined with mine and I admit that I lost any level of distance or objectivity when we were talking about long forgotten memories. I was lucky to be able to see Mike twice in four days and was joined on the second visit by our old (mutual) friend Nolan who was kind enough to snap some photos of Mike and I after lunch. Seeing the photo (left) I can’t’ help but notice how much I’ve aged since the last time we were together.
Getting old has been on my mind a lot lately; schtick mostly but also the reality of the process that seems to be going faster than it did when I was in my twenties; how time seems to be speeding up as my life finally settles into the adventure that I share with Julia as my wife and the other half of my heart; the fancy dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant with sport coat and tie and a bundle of pre-date jitters that seems like it was only yesterday is almost three years past, following her down the red hallway at her old apartment, nervous that she wouldn’t like me now a story from long ago. It’s weird and comforting and amazing that every day we spend together- rushing around the Magic Kingdom making sure that we get to ride all of the rides on our incredibly detailed itinerary, sitting on the bed watching SVU with Mr. Bailey Papers and telling each other about our day… even the quiet moments become nodal points for a future treasured memory.
I think it’s natural to have those reality check moments about getting older; remembering all of the experiences that have brought me to where I am now and applying them to how I want the second half of this amazing, surreal and adventurous life to be.
Today has been an oddly sentimental day for me. Good sentiment; not melancholic but my brain keeps directing me back to friends and loved ones that aren’t around anymore. It’s inspired more smiles than anything.
memores acti prudentes futuri