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They say you can’t go home again

I always thought that was a cliché

‘Cause I’d always go back and see the place

But things are different after today.

Another of my dad’s friends just passed away

And I try not to think who the next one will be

Those who aren’t gone yet are on the way out

They’re dropping faster and closer to me.

Plowed under, built over

Too many debts still need to be paid

Plowed under, built over

But the memories will never fade

Plowed under, built over

Too many loose ends still need to be tied

Plowed under, built over

But the history still lives on inside.

The old dreaded day camp is no longer

At least with that, all is well

I drove my car through the streets that replaced it

And damned all its cursed ghosts to hell.

But the amusement park met a similar fate

Not a physical memory, not even a trace

It’s all been obliterated in the name of renewal

What a sad end to a once magical place.

Plowed under, built over ...

The school is expanding at the expense of the schoolyard

The playground and sandbox long since removed

I suppose I should be happy there are so many students

But if they’d have asked me, I wouldn’t have approved.

My old house was sold and resold and re-resold

And everything has been bent and twisted out of shape

It doesn’t make sense for me to go knocking

I’d just set myself up for more heartache.

Plowed under, built over ...

And where are all my old friends and loves?

All my peers and crushes, the guys and girls?

Very few of them here, if any at all

They’re scattered to the various ends of the world.

I might have broken a lot of hearts if I’d stayed

So maybe it’s good that I left when I did

But I’m plagued by all the what-might-have-beens

In this town that I knew so well as a kid.

Plowed under, built over ...

©2024 The Hesh Inc.

"Superblock 052123" - original photo by The Hesh Inc.
The 'Superblock' in my hometown ... what's being built over what had already been plowed under.

Since I moved back to the United States from Israel in 1988, I would periodically visit my old hometown, Long Beach, New York, just to see how much of the place changed and how much stayed the same. For most of the time over the next 18 years, I would just drive through town and pass all the landmarks that held some significance to me—houses I had lived in, friends' houses, my old school, the synagogues where I had attended services—but I rarely got out of the car, let alone seek out anyone who still lived there. I broke that spell in 2006, when I started spending weekends there and reacquainting myself with the actual community, meeting new people as well as seeing those I had known since the times I had lived there. Eventually, in 2008, I actually moved back into town and lived there as part of the community, for the first time since I had moved away with my family almost 30 years prior. It was all a mixed bag, a rollercoaster of emotions, and a profound sense of frustration at why the town itself still faced a lot of the same dilemmas and issues that had plagued it practically since it was established and not being able to do anything about it.

What brought this song about was some news that reached me, during the time I was still driving through town anonymously, about one of my father's old cronies, who had lived and done business in Long Beach since first arriving in the country in the 1940s, passing away. That added a sense of mortality to the frustration, all mixed in with the nostalgia. It would be over a decade and two cross-country moves before I decided to actually move back to Long Beach, but perhaps this event helped plant the seed subconsciously.

Today, owing to several changes in personal circumstances, I live in the generic, uninspiring North Jersey suburbia, only wishing I could move back to Long Beach again. But then I think of how not everything was hunky dory, both when I was living there and just in general, and I wonder if that's what I really want to do. The question remains open.

One thing is for sure, though: I wouldn't have all these mixed feelings if I didn't love the town in the first place.

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