You can’t go home again… or can you?

I’ve often wondered about the title of Thomas Wolfe’s book. I mean, can you go home again? Thomas Wolfe doesn’t think you can, but me, I don’t know. I think it’s possible, in some ways, to go back to your childhood.

I’m in Miami right now with my kids on our semi-annual visit to the land of grandparents. As soon as I walk out of the airport and into the blinding wet heat of Miami, everything feels so familiar. The muggy smell of the place, the thick clouds, everyone dressed in bright colors speaking Spanish. I’m standing there in my hippie jeans, a peasant blouse and a cashmere sweater feeling like a total fish out of water. Why didn’t I wear my white jeans, stilettos and my gold spangled top on the plane? Oh, because you don’t have any of those things.


Not only is the look of Miami so different than Northern California, but the way of being is so different.  Especially the way people talk to children — at least the way my family talks to children. I’m raising my kids in the age of the over-informed helicopter parent. I’ve taken classes on parenting, had group talks on parenting, even parent meditations. Positive discipline! Conscious parenting! Attachment parenting! (By the way, I don’t think any of it has made me a great parent.) My friends and I phrase things to our children. We negotiate.  We team build. (For better or for worse, we’ll see…)

So it’s not so much the heat or the fashion or the smell of Miami that reminds me of who I am and where I came from.  It’s the language.

August walked up to my dad in the kitchen this morning and said, “Grandpa, we’re out of milk.”

My dad looked down at his little five year old grandson and said, “That’s because you piss ants drank it all.”

Yep. You can definitely go home again. I know that because I’m here.


  • Cheryl says:

    Well, Bon Jovi said you can go home and that’s good enough for me.
    What’s weird about this post is I live in North Palm beach Florida and just spent two weeks in northern California to escape the inferno. We booked a carriage house in a tiny town no one had heard of and as I passed the feed store, the vegetarian restaurants and vintage shops I couldn’t stop wondering if I was in YOUR town. What would the chances be? I swear I’m not a stalker.
    I read your race post and yep, it is. I loved everything about it and was so sad to leave. You are very lucky to have found an incredible place to raise your kids. You missed the crazy packed, weird, wonderful apple festival. I gained ten pounds but it was a fantastic vacation.

    • Holly Hester says:

      We live in Sebastopol. Is that where you visited? Did you go to the Gravenstein apple festival? I was sad that we missed it. I like to watch the apple pie eating contests. They are so disgusting! We just drove past Palm Beach yesterday heading back to Miami! We’ve traded places!

      • Yes, we rented a place on Hollman lane, off Elphick. It was so peaceful and the views were ridiculous.
        We did go to the apple festival and I definitely had a Large Barge “Stand By Me” pie eating flashback. I couldn’t get over the intense farm vibe. There are real farmers all up in tractors and no strangers to sitting on hay bales. But then I had an awesome falafel sandwich and my husband grubbed on some spicy Indian food, pretty much the last thing I’d expect to eat at a fair. And the organic apple fritters with organic iced coffee-not happening here in Palm Beach. When is this progressive Cittaslow (oof, awkward word) movement going to penetrate areas like mine in FL where we still get takeout food in styrofoam containers? I think your town is intimidatingly progressive but I like it. I also liked eating delicious farm to table food for relatively cheap.

        • Holly Hester says:

          Wow! I can’t believe you were in Sebastopol! We live so close to Elphick — crazy close, on Pleasant Hill! The food is definitely progressive. I leave there I’m shocked, but it does seem like it’s changing slowly…. I found organic food at a grocery at a tiny town in the middle of Florida so that’s pretty cool. Tell me next time you’re in town and we can say hi!

  • Sue says:

    Have fun Holly. I was just there with the kids a few weeks ago. Poor little Montanans melting in the humidity.

    • Holly Hester says:

      I bet your kids melt in the heat! My kids totally wither in this heat and we’re just in Northern California! Even I’ve forgotten how hot it can be. I kind of like it though. feels good on my pores.

  • Margaret says:

    We are just laughing over here! Enjoy your trip!

  • Dell says:

    Too funny Holly. That’s what parents –
    The older ones who could say whatever- like to carry on

    • Holly Hester says:

      I actually like it. Parents today are too guarded. It cracks me up to hear my father talking to my kids.

  • Juli says:

    If it’s any comfort…my husbands father took my then 8 and 12 year-old to the gun range. My mother keeps frozen owl pellets in the freezer (next to the jellybeans) for them to dissect. Just sayin’

    • Holly Hester says:

      The gun range? That’s hilarious. I bet they liked it though. The owl pellets… well, I guess it’s always nice to have a project around for a rainy day. you kids have some interesting grandparents — that’s a good thing. It will help them remember them always.

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