• StevenF

You Can't Go Home Again: Rebirth

They say "The only thing constant is change," and it's true.

Things change. Nothing stays the same. It's just a fact of life.

The title of this post takes its inspiration from that Thomas Wolfe novel title. Whenever I heard this quote when I was a child, I never really understood what it meant. As an adult, I get it. A person can never go back to the way things once were. People die. People change. People grow up and move away. Places you lived and interacted as a child will not be the same as they are now that you're an adult.

This past week, Isaias and I went back to Utah, where I am originally from, to set up his art for the exhibit being currently shown at the Pioneer Theatre Loge Gallery, "Life, Death, Rebirth."

First off, can I say how incredibly proud I am of my husband. He worked really hard to create the pieces featured in his exhibit, and then he loaded them all in our van like a game of Tetris, and we drove through rain and snowstorms to get them safely to Salt Lake City.

The drive to Salt Lake City was scary at times. Having grown up in Utah, I have driven in snow many times, although it's never been my favorite thing. But it had been a while, and visibility was not great, and it was a bit nerve-racking. It took us about seven and a half hours to get safely to our hotel on a trip that normally takes five and a half to six hours. My fingers were numb from gripping the wheel so hard, and I have rarely been as relieved to finally be in our hotel as I was after our treacherous drive. The best thing was when we got behind a semi truck that seemed to be driving safely. That really helped.

On Sunday, my friend George Maxwell, who had invited Isaias to exhibit his art, and we unpacked the art pieces and arranged them according to Isaias' desires. It took most of the day but looked really great when we were done.

Here's a few snapshots of the exhibit:

Monday, we had to go back and put some last-minute signage up. While we were there, we heard the cast of Pioneer Theatre's latest show, Shucked, rehearsing.

This was a weird trip for me on a personal level. I lived in Utah for most of my life. When I went to school and met Isaias, eventually I moved here to Las Vegas. But I always consider Utah my home.

And yet, the more I come back to Utah, the less it feels like a home. I almost feel like a stranger in a world that once seemed all too familiar and comfortable.

Take for instance, these things that happened while I was on this trip. Some of them have happened before, but for some reason, they struck me different this time around.

I drove by my childhood home, the house Mom and Dad lived in for almost their entire marriage (Mom had to move into an assisted living facility the last nine months of her life) and where I lived for much of my own life.

I drive by the house sometimes when I'm in town, but this occurrence was different. Whoever lives there now doesn't seem to be taking the best care of it. The front lawn was yellow and dead; so many of the trees Mom had planted after Dad had died had been removed; the large backyard had had much of its grass removed and was now replaced with cement and a couple of boats, it looked like; the yard was unkempt. It just made me kind of sad.

But here's the thing: the home isn't mine anymore. It hasn't been for years. And especially in an age where water conservation is important, maybe the dead lawn and concrete-filled backyard aren't such bad things. But the house has changed. It will never be the same as it was when I was growing up.

Even the neighborhood didn't look great overall to me. A storm a couple of years ago took out a number of trees that had been there for years. But it wasn't just that. The neighborhood looked a little old and sad to me.

We passed a woman I have known for years but haven't seen in some time, and she looked so old. Well, of course she does. We're all aging. I'm older, too. Why should it surprise me if she is? But sometimes I keep people young in my memory and am surprised when life has gone on, and they're old now.

We passed near where my great aunt and uncle's house was. I know that has been drastically remodeled. We spent so many Christmas Eves there, and the house as I remember it is forever gone, only remaining intact in my memories.

We passed near where I used to work at Snelgrove's Ice Cream (my first job when I was a high school student. The ice cream parlor and factory are no more. This is literally all that remains of my former workplace:

We drove by the cemetery where the remains of my parents are. We spent Monday night with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. The rest of their family are married and have families of their own. We visited my cousins. Their kids are so grown up. One is in college now. My sister's kid is in college, too.

Life continues on.

When we were at Pioneer Theatre setting up, I felt a feeling of melancholy. This used to be my old stomping ground, a place where I worked frequently and steadily as an actor.

Many of the people who worked there when I was there are no longer there, and I haven't been on that stage in ten years.

I was looking at a book that showed photos of Paris in the 1890s, and it struck me how incredibly different Paris looks now from how it did then.

So it's interesting, when I visited my cousins, they do a podcast about art and the artistic process. I did their third episode some time ago, and they asked Isaias if he would do one, so he did.

But we were talking about his exhibit, and I was talking about the idea of rebirth and how when people die or our lives change, we have to go through a rebirth and adapt to the changes that occur.

Life isn't constant. People leave us. We go through relationship changes. We have to move. Buildings get torn down. New things get erected.

I looked at Fashion Place Mall, near where I used to live as a kid. It is one of the US's most successful malls, and it has changed enormously since I was a child. It is so busy now. We happened to get something to eat there on the Sunday we were setting up Isaias' art exhibit, and I thought, "When I was a kid, the mall was closed on Sunday." It certainly didn't have the kinds of shops and attendance it does now. It is always busy now.

We noticed too that the diversity in Utah has changed. It was very white when I was growing up, but the Hispanic population has increased a lot.

The Salt Lake City Airport has changed a lot...for the better, in my opinion, but it looks so different than it once did. My old high school has been torn down and replaced with another, better version. Things have to change to adapt to the times, and for someone who is sometimes too nostalgic, that is hard for me at times to get used to.

One thing that does seem more constant about my former home are the mountains.

I don't miss driving in the snow. I don't miss scraping ice off my windshield. But I sure do miss these mountains. The twin peaks to the left are what I could see from my street every day. And I miss them.

Catching up with my family was really nice. I miss them a lot. I get emotional when we have to say goodbye.

Tuesday we flew to Miami for Isaias' job with Magic Mike Live. He is the Associate Costume Designer for the touring version and had to help the Miami team transition their version of the show. He's been back and forth a couple of times already, but I got to go this time.

I had never been to Miami (or Florida even). I enjoyed it.

It was much hotter than it had been in Utah. It was nice to go to the beach while Isaias was working.

And the next day, while Isaias was working again, a friend of ours, Jorge, drove me around Miami and showed me the sights. It was really fun. We also took some walks into Little Havana, had some amazing Cuban food, and took another walk in Jorge's neighborhood and looked at interesting houses. It was fun. We also met a neighborhood cat named Moose, who was super friendly.

It was a fun, but short, trip. Then it was back to Salt Lake City again for Isaias' opening and the production of Shucked, which was amusing.

Isaias has already sold some pieces, so that is exciting.

My brother and sister-in-law were able to see Isaias' pieces and so did some friends of mine. They were very complimentary.

And then yesterday we visited my cousins and recorded the podcast, which should be released soon.

We visited for a bit, then started to head out of town but stopped by Trolley Square for a Day of Dead event.

It was fun. We also bought this really cool jewelry. Mine is a beaded peacock, which I'll take a picture of when I get a chance. We had a good time. We grabbed something to eat and then finally got a late start out of town. We got back to Vegas at about 10pm, and boy, you have never seen four more excited cats. They are just so glad to have us back. We missed them so much.

Anyway, now we have to start working on Isaias' Dia de los Muertos ofrenda for Springs Preserve this week, and I have my audiobook to start working on. And then in two weeks, we have to pick up any unsold art. I just hope the weather is better next time around.

So life continues.

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