Rich Paxson

In the Discussion Forum for this module, answer the following questions: Have you ever returned to a place that had been important to you, such as a childhood home or school? What expectations did you have? Did the place meet your expectations or maybe disappoint you in some way?

This summer my wife and I and another couple stayed four days in an AirBNB apartment http://bit.ly/1UK0cCf on Chicago’s north-side. Upon arriving I parked the car in the garage behind the apartment building. As I walked from the garage to our first floor apartment’s back porch, suddenly I was transported back to my Chicago childhood. The location of the garage in a small backyard on an alley strongly echoed my boyhood family-home’s yard and garage. The floor plan and general feel of this north-side apartment also resembled that of our long-ago, south-side home.

Decades old memories flooded into my mind, giving me the opportunity to explore long dormant feelings in a venue where I had no prior expectations to make them conform to cherished ideals. On the contrary, while the north-side apartment readily evoked childhood memories, it simultaneously contained them within the frame of our couples’ weekend.

So remaining grounded in the present, I returned in memory to a distant past. Inhabiting both worlds at once, I was able to contemplate my past dispassionately through a lens informed by the distance of years of experience. And yet I wonder how this dispassionate lens that tenderly looked into my past gets refocused for a similar survey of the present. Where will I find the same empathic understanding presenting itself among the practicalities framed within the bounds of today?