You Can’t Take a Picture of This, It’s Already Gone

“Home is where I want to be pick me up and turn me ’round”– Talking Heads

It’s that time again.
That time of the year that you go home. To the place that you experienced your childhood. The place your Mom and Dad live. The place that has the only bed that has ever mattered.
The place that still holds onto the life that you left behind when you were told to grow up.

But each time you go home. It feels a little different. A little off.
You can’t quite put your finger on it as you stare at the glow-in-the-dark stars you affixed to your ceiling seventeen years ago.

Why don’t I feel like I’m home? This looks like my home. Those are the same stickers on the back of my door, whose exact trace has never left my fingers. Those are the same milky stains in the floorboards, whose existence came to be as Sammy aged and became incontinent. Those are the same windows that over look the highway, whose path took me away from here five years ago.

This trip you decide you’re going to dig a little deeper. Tear away the boards you’ve nailed over the obvious picture.
You peek through and that is when you see it.

For the first time, it all becomes clear: The white frost that has glazed over your mother’s once copper skin. The little brown dots traversing up the now rough terrain of your father’s hands. The frothy slur in your Grandmother’s voice. The recognition of bewilderment upon meeting the child born from someone you climbed trees with not that long ago. The decaying facade of your family’s business, their heart and soul, still sitting vacant on the comparably disintegrating Main Street. You see for the very first time that all of this, everything that you thought was a constant, has changed.

Changed while you weren’t even paying attention.

Desperation quickly floods in and you try to freeze everything, but you can’t.
It’s already gone.

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  • Reply L.L. December 23, 2009 at 3:07 am

    If it makes you feel any better – the second I moved out my Mom showed up at my new apartment and took my house key away, saying she didn't want me just dropping by. Lovely. Then she got a whole new house. I haven't had a home since she moved us out of our childhood home so she could live with her boyfriend when I was 18. I haven't felt like anyplace I've lived since has really truly been home.

  • Reply Ellie December 23, 2009 at 3:07 am

    You can only go home so many times…

  • Reply paige worthy December 23, 2009 at 3:23 am

    I wrote something just as bittersweet when I went "home" for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. Ugh.

  • Reply Grant December 23, 2009 at 3:33 am

    Leonard's remind me of my Grandpa's old Drug Store. I want a whole post about Leonard's. Great post as always.

  • Reply thatgalkiki December 23, 2009 at 3:59 am

    Oh how I still yearn for Six Feet Under. Your title took me to the finale instantly. Then I read your post.


    Just beautiful.


  • Reply M December 23, 2009 at 5:33 am

    I have the glow-in-the-dark stars!!!

    And old beanie babies. And a wall full of awards I won in elementary and middle and high school. And photos of my dance recitals from years past. And high school yearbooks stacked in a corner.

    It still feels like home to me. Yes, things have changed. People in my family have gotten older. The dynamic is different. But it still feels like home.

    This post resonated with me though. Very well-written, and the photos are beautiful.

    Isn't it weird to think that one day you will probably have kids who will go through the same thing you are going through? One day you will create your own home for them, and they will leave, and they will come back and feel something similar to what you are feeling.

    I sometimes look around my parents' house – especially at this time of year – and wonder, how do they DO IT? How did they create an entire life for me? How do people do that?

    I think that is the real key to growing up. Being able to create a home. I know I'm not there yet.

  • Reply Amber Tidd Murphy December 23, 2009 at 5:33 am

    What a bittersweet post. You really captured the way I feel from time to time — especially around the holidays — about growing "up" and getting older. In some ways, it feels like childhood was five minutes ago, but when I stop and look around, everything HAS changed. It's life, I know, but it just makes me realize I should have treasured those moments with my family when I was younger.

  • Reply Meagan Nicole December 23, 2009 at 5:56 am

    That was quite impressive. You have real writing skills.

  • Reply kelsey. December 23, 2009 at 7:09 am

    i was going to leave a long reply but i drowned in my own tears.

  • Reply Benny Paul December 23, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I believe I've felt that jarring and also sentimental feeling you describe. I've gone home and thought, "Isn't this place silly, I've changed, but it hasn't." Then that's followed by the shock that my family's life is changing without me.
    What's worse, though, was living at my parents house. I'll put it this way: when I come home from somewhere else and discover that I "can't go home," it's not so bad, but being reminded that I "can't come home" every day while living there was maddening.
    So, every time I return home and feel some sort of ennui, I say to myself, "Hey, remember when you lived here?" and then I feel pretty happy.

  • Reply Mr London Street December 23, 2009 at 11:04 am

    One of my favourite of your posts.

  • Reply Jessie December 23, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I feel the same way. Now a days my "home" is my new home – which still feels weird to me.

    things change, people age and all you have left are memories.

  • Reply pinksundrops December 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I wish I was going home for the holidays. Even though it's not the house I grew up in, the town always feels like home to me. The place I'm most familar with even if I don't always want to be there. Heck, I guess Austin is becoming home, too.

  • Reply AUTISTIC THEATER. December 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    wrote a song for you about just that,
    take yr. pick.

  • Reply Just me.... December 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Beautiful Lauren… thanks for sharing. I look forward to your posts.. And of course, I have to say a la Edward Sharpe "Home is where I am with you" .. so falling in love (among many other things) changes our perspective on what "Home" actually is? I hope you find "home" for you, not just this Christmas .. but always.

  • Reply Hannah Miet December 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    I loved this one, Lauren.

    I am excited to swap Christmas stories with you.

    I'm going home tonight.

  • Reply Angie December 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Well said. Thankfully we live about 8 houses down from our parents, so we haven't missed anything that's been changing. Some might say that's too close to live to your parents, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Merry Christmas!! 🙂

  • Reply Jeanne Brown December 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Very beautiful. A sort of Christmas present for us all. Thanks.

  • Reply Technogran December 23, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Yes it happens to us all….everything changes, nothing stands still, its never the same.

  • Reply Hipstercrite December 23, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    L.L- that is so sad! i'm sure you'll make a home again.

    Paige- i will check your post out as soon as I'm done typing this.

    Grant- Oh man, I wanna hear about this drug store!

    Kiki- That last episode of "Six Feet Under" is probably the most moving thing I've ever seen. It's inspiring.

    M- Thank you for your beautiful response

    Amber- I think you begin treasuring those moments more as you age.

    Meagan- Thank you so much!!!!

    Kelsey- This post was written with you in mind.

    Benny- I've been close to moving back home before and I've had a lot of friends who have. I think you're right, it's different and it's depressing to see that difference every day!

    Mr. London Street- Wow. Cool. Thank you!

    Pinksundrops- I do believe you can have more than one home, for sure. I guess you can't have more than one childhood. Know what I mean? That's what I tell myself.

    Just Me- i think you are so right…..

    Hannah- are we still on for thursday???

    Angie- I'm so jealous!!!!

    Jeanne- thank you!!!

  • Reply Taylor December 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    So very well put. I share similar sentiments at this time each year.

  • Reply Eric Shonkwiler December 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I've been seeing that wear in my parents for a few years now, the changes in kids I used to know, friends marrying and giving birth. It's unsettling. Something like the beginning of an epiphany.

  • Reply Hannah Miet December 24, 2009 at 5:31 am

    We are definitely on.

    I have no idea what I am writing about. But I am watching Home Alone on vicoden and antibiotics with my computer out. Something has to come to me.

  • Reply bitter coffee bitch December 24, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    This is the reason I came back hardly before I had left. I was terrified of missing something despite facebook. But I miss things when I'm here because I stay as far away from the 'house' and those photos as I can even if that's only 20 miles. It's our job to let go and forge our own photos.

    Brilliant capturing that moment.

  • Reply Miss Iris December 24, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    It is true. Home is where they know the hows and whys of the person you are…of the person you have become. I savor all the moments when i go home and always remember the things that make it home. thank you for jarring those wonderful memories and reminding us to savor them all.

  • Reply J.D. December 25, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    There is a beauty to the sadness of this post. It echos with feeling. I love how it flows. It truly is a wonderful piece. But dont let the bad get the good down. You are a amazing and talented person. I am so happy that you found it within yourself to share your life with us. Have a Merry Christmas and an Even better New Year. Much Love -fin


  • Reply Freelance Pallbearer December 26, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Ah yes, change: the only constant, and yet so much remains the same. That despite the deleterious effect time and gravity inflict on all things, living or not, that change is artifice. My parents haven't really 'changed' since I've known them. Or, perhaps a better way of phrasing it is they have become more the same; emotions and persona's embedded even deeper into their consciousness. I've found the thing that was changing was in fact me.

  • Reply Honesty December 26, 2009 at 3:07 am

    I too have felt this way many times. Im only home during holidays and thats only if my college forces me to leave the dorm. but home isnt home for me hardly anymore, even though I lived there over the summer. I feel like I need to get an apartment so I have a place to call home.

  • Reply mysterg December 26, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    You look so much like your mum in those old photographs!

    Home should be a bubble where nothing ever changes, the thing that defines us, our last resort to escape to for comfort…

    But of course everything changes just as much as we change ourselves. Until all that is left are some faded photographs and memories of what once was.

    Once we leave we can never go back.

  • Reply Fabulous Finds Gal December 27, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Great post and extemely well written. Life just goes on… even if we don't notice it just passed us by.

    Fabulous Finds gal

  • Reply paintnpencil December 27, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Amazing, amazing, your blog is like picking up your favourite unfinished novel and getting to read some more of it. Love it.

  • Reply Christopher December 27, 2009 at 5:57 am

    What creeped me out as I was sitting in the living room this Christmas eve was how much my father and grandfather look alike. The way they talk the same. The similar mannerisms. I'd never noticed it when I was a kid, they seemed so different.

    Then I looked in the mirror, I'm not that different… Scary.

    Maybe things age, don't look the same anymore and wear down. But there will always be traces of who we are somewhere in other people. Just slightly off.

  • Reply Christina Love December 27, 2009 at 7:21 am


  • Reply refugee from reason December 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    "Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America- that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement. At any rate, that is how it seemed to young George Webber, who was never so assured of his purpose as when he was going somewhere on a train. And he never had the sense of home so much as when he felt that he was going there. It was only when he got there that his homelessness began.
    You Can't Go Home AgainThomas Wolfe (1940)

  • Reply Kyle Reynolds December 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Its my first time spending Christmas and new year away from home. Been gone for about 12 months now but I was with my partner, since december ive been relocated and completely alone.

    Its wierd how you try find things that remind you of home, where does it lye within you and what you appreciated about it.


  • Reply Rebecca V. O'Neal December 29, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Fellow blogger of note (b.vikki vintage) popping in to say I LOVE YOUR BLOG!


  • Reply Braden Rosner December 29, 2009 at 6:32 am

    I have too many Talking Heads records. It's particularly depressing considering I don't own a record player. Ugh.

    Great stuff!

  • Reply Langley January 1, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Home was where the heart was.

  • Reply Erin Michelle January 17, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Man, I came online to write a post about going home and was planning to include some Edward Sharpe… now I feel like I'd be copying! I certainly can't say it better than this, so maybe I'll just link if you don't mind. 🙂

    Love your shtuff, as always! Glad I finally caught up!

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