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Old 04-13-2008, 10:52 PM
365 posts, read 1,131,103 times
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I grew up in a very small town (pop: 1,300) in a rural area of Illinois. It was farmland for miles and miles. My desire for an education and my chosen profession took me to the big city. Now DH and I are reaching retirement. We can not afford to retire in the big city, and, to be honest, we don't want to. We're so tired of traffic, crowds, noise, crime, high taxes, you name it, and would love to move to a small town.

Naturally, we have considered my hometown, since, as Donald Rumsfeld would put it, it is a "known known." I do still have a couple of friends there, and my mother still lives nearby, but I'm wondering: Can you really go home again? Has anyone on this forum moved back to their old hometown after a lifetime away and made it work? Did the people you used to know there become your friends again? Were you able to make a life? Did problems you had when you lived there just resurface when you returned? Were you able to overcome them, or were they always stumbling blocks?
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:54 PM
Location: Bradenton, Florida
27,236 posts, read 41,409,778 times
Reputation: 10958
I can't say...since I'm not big on moving around...I like to stick around...see the same sights, even mourn the loss of others, as my town grows up beyond me.
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Old 04-14-2008, 06:15 AM
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,834,488 times
Reputation: 18992
Both of the towns I grew up in are not very safe any more, especially for an old lady like me.

I do sometimes daydream about moving back to Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I had such wonderful times there (back in the 60's). But that was a prosperous time for Ohio. All I have to do is read the Cleveland Forum to realize times have changed. I like to visit, though.

I have no desire to return to Miami. I couldn't wait to get out of there at 17 and have never looked back.
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Old 04-14-2008, 06:48 AM
1,861 posts, read 3,025,556 times
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I grew up in a small town in upstate NY - about 1200 people, and the school merged with the town next door that maybe had 2000 people. Very small community, everyone knew each other - I still have several friends up there, who I see now and then when I visit my mother and brother.

I moved to Boston in 1979 (a few years after college), and I like it, but get sick of it, too. Sometimes, I dream of going home, but I don't think I'd like it. I'm too used to being in the thick of things, where there's so much going on. When I see my friends, I just thank my lucky stars that I got out. I think if I went back, I'd have the same old issues with the same old people (like my H.S. boyfriend, who is still there, and I dated for years). It scares me to think I'd have to deal with any of that. I went to the 20th reunion years ago, and it still seemed like everything was the same.

Still, the money aspect is enticing - I'd have no problem whatsoever retiring there, and my brother and his kids are up there, even when my mother goes.

If you were happy there, what I would do is give it a trial, and go up there for a month and see what it's like - what's available for older people, what people you still know, churches (if you want), access to movies, shopping, or anything else you might like.

And, no, you can't go home again - it would be totally different now. I think I'd have a problem with that - that maybe I'd expect all my friends and I to get together all the time or something, like H.S., and I'd be disappointed about it. Most likely, I'd try to live in the nearest city, and go out to the little town when I wanted to. Syracuse is the nearest city, and I used to live there. And, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than Boston!
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Old 04-14-2008, 08:59 AM
13,324 posts, read 25,582,469 times
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Sure you can go home. It just won't be what you remembered, any more than you are as you remembered
I left south Jersey at age 20, and have never wanted to go back. But when I've been in Center City Philly, there is an almost-annoying feeling of belonging and comfort that I don't get anywhere else.
I think being somewhere as a child or young adult is, by definition, different from being there years later, different life stages, whether the place has changed a little or a lot. If you return wanting the same sense of it as before, it's not gonna happen. If you want to go back for those things that are familiar (or the weather, or the views, or whatever you are missing), then you can and should go, understanding that it will be familiar, but certainly not the same.
Somehow, after 34 years around Cambridge/area, I've left three times to find my "true" home and keep bellyflopping back to eastern Mass. I think this is home, even though I fight it. But Cherry Hill, N.J., is just a highway with subdivisions to me. That probably has more to do with my family experience there than anything to do with the place itself, but I have get the creeps when I go back.
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Old 04-14-2008, 11:46 AM
365 posts, read 1,131,103 times
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Thank you all for your thoughts. Some are quite provocative. And the common sense idea of spending a month there before making a decision (thanks, cousinsal) is something I hadn't thought of.

I guess it seems like such a big deal to me because I couldn't wait to get outta there when I was growing up—it was insular, small, nothing to do, gossipy, clique-ish, you know, the usual complaints about little towns. The only thing that made it tolerable for me then was my huge, close, fun-loving family. What concerns me about moving back is the people who made it a home are almost all gone now. It seems so sad when I go back to visit that I can't just drop in and see them. But I do have a couple of cousins who stayed, my mom lives nearby, two elderly aunts, a couple of high school friends, and one of my oldest and dearest friends still lives in the area.

It's completely affordable and "familiar," as brightdoglover said. I can still find my way around those country roads without a map; this area was hardwired onto my brain at a very young age. And I know that, unlike when I was young, if I want something, I now know how and where to go get it and still return home. (Does that make sense?)

I dont' expect the people to welcome me with open arms. Heck, I haven't spoken to most of them in 40 years. But DH and I would like to have a quiet, simpler life, get back to the gardening, provide a safe open space for the grandkids, be able to see the stars for once—all that stuff that you take for granted until you've been without it for 40 years. It just seems like it would be easier when a place has been imprinted on your brain since childhood.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:14 PM
Location: Tennessee
34,697 posts, read 33,714,187 times
Reputation: 51943
I'm wondering if it depends on how long you've been gone.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:16 PM
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,492 posts, read 51,413,364 times
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I do not want to go home. I want to move to a new place when I retire.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:21 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,647 posts, read 40,010,157 times
Reputation: 23806

I don't think you are too far off, and you should have fun going back. There are even folks returning to 'the prairie towns' after many years chasing the job / family / and the bumper in front of them. Sounds like you have a good attitude and heart about it. I also miss the older folks that were such a large part of 'growing-up'. Some things will be different, some the same (good and bad). You just want to be transparent to the change, and not get frustrated over stuff or people, and DON'T project any elitism for your ventures. Just be glad to be back and encourage those you encounter. (in re-integrating with the old; you may want to be the SALT(mellower), and not the PEPPER). It can be humbling, but enlightening. I'm glad for the many experiences that 'wanderlust' has availed me, but there is some consistency in those who remained regardless of circumstances. (some stayed by choice, some by necessity).

I have so many international destinations that I still want to live, I'm not sure when I will get back home, but where I've been for the last 28 yrs is certainly not home. There may be something 'hard-wired' in some of our social relationships. I miss 'talking-over-the-fence', school and community fund raisers, potlucks, community building projects, helping the elderly, annual picnic celebrations, Ice cream socials, sharing garden produce, band concerts in the little tiny park, quilting and threshing bee's ... Today's faceless society may have eroded that, but there is a potential some of us 'reminiscent' boomers may re-capture a bit of it. But the next generation may not follow suit. They were raised with TV, Video, Computer, phone, and in day care centers so are pleased to 'make their own way'. Possibly the pendulum will swing, but I'm not counting on it.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:31 PM
Location: Knoxville, TN
2,172 posts, read 6,889,716 times
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You need to really think about how you are defining "home." Is it a geographic place or a way of life?
The two may not be the same anymore.
I've found a "home" in Knoxville. It reminds me of the suburban Los Angeles I grew up in back in the 1950s. I wouldn't want to physically move back to the area, it has changed so drastically from what it was.
Does the physical home offer what you will need in retirement? Friends and relatives move, die. Will there be people to replace them? Is there access to Medicare medical care? Can you pursue hobbies, volunteer work, other interests?
You need to look at it with fresh eyes and see if the physical home has more to offer than memories.
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