I don’t know where that phrase came from, “You can never go home.” I have often thought about that saying and wondered exactly what it means. I think I have a better grasp on it, especially after being in self imposed exile from my home state of Wyoming for over twenty years. I think that many people in the “Hotel California,” can relate to having a hard time returning and fitting in to their home towns after living in LA for a period of time.
Even if you are the fringes of the “action” in Los Angeles, you feel like you are a part of it. Cars rush by on the freeways at ninety miles an hour, and cars hurry down the surface streets at over fifty miles an hour. Women put makeup on as they are driving. Everyone seems to have a Mercedes, BMW, or range Rover. Everyone’s car is faster than yours, and there are 40 different freeways that connect it all.
Flying over Los Angeles for the first time is an experience itself. The enormity of it all is overwhelming, as you see the ribbons of freeway, the various mountain ranges that surround the Los Angeles Basin, the endless stream of cars, the huge tracts of houses and various community centers and landmarks, and then seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time as you approach LAX from the east and the tiny boats in the water just before you touch down.
Then, you live in Los Angeles awhile and gradually you start changing. Your hairstyle and clothing choices start changing. You pick up a little lingo. You start getting harder, as you develop a competitive edge. In the beginning, it bothers you when you see homeless people and you want to help them. Soon you realize you have to help yourself first, or you will end up among them.
Beautiful people everywhere. Palm trees, Spanish style architecture, huge hedges around manicured estates, where certainly movie stars must be living. Everyone wears shades and shorts even in December. The beach is one half hour away and the mountains and desert are an hour away. Hiking trails in the Hollywood hills, with the Hollywood sign as your backdrop, where you will see all kinds of eye candy and maybe even run into celebrities. I remember once, seeing the Olsen twins hiking on trail close to Topanga Canyon.
Brady, in the novel, “Palm Avenue,” returns to Kansas for his father’s funeral. He never wanted to be a part of the whole California scene, but he realizes upon going back to his home town of Colby, Kansas, that he will never be able to live there again. Life is just too slow for him. He is now addicted to the fast pace and being close to the “action.” He leaves shortly after the funeral and buys a twelve pack of Budweiser on his way out of town. For Brady, Colby, Kansas in the rearview mirror brings a sigh of relief.
For Ashley, she is not ready to go home at all, knowing it will be just too painful. Of course, we must all eventually go home, and at some point we will probably desperately want to get back there. Some of us will make it, and others won’t…