Anne's Diary

You Can't Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe once wrote a novel titled "You Can't Go Home Again," and with the horrible heat wave going on in Southwest Texas right now, that's how I feel. In his poem "The Death of the Hired Man," Robert Frost wrote, "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." I feel that way about San Antonio, but it looks as if climate change may have taken that option away from me.

That's what climate change has brought us to--areas in the US (and all over the world) that will soon no longer be viable places to live. When your family and so many of your friends live in one of these places, the tragedy becomes a personal one. If the heat wave continues much longer, the reservoirs that feed most of the large cities in Texas will evaporate and these cities will have to be conserve water, stop watering their lawns, and then--if the heat continues--people will have to evacuate their homes.

San Antonio has an aquifer system (a series of underground caves that collect and hold rainwater), but with no rain the aquifer may empty. There were water restrictions every year we lived there, and I suspect they must be draconian now. Your lawn can turn yellow, your roses can die, but if you and your children have nothing to drink, you have no choice but to leave.

The cities of Texas, like cities across the country, have neighborhoods filled with abandoned houses due to the foreclosures of the economic crisis. If these places experience water shortages, they will become filled with new "ghost" neighborhoods, like the abandoned ghost towns of the past. When driving from city to city in Texas, you pass many of these ghost towns, filled with boarded-up stores and empty homes, usually abandoned because local ranching and farming became no longer productive, so people moved on. I shudder to think how many more of them there may be in the future.

Could Dallas, Houston or Austin become the first huge "ghost cities?" Alas, only time will tell.

As I write this, we are listening to Christmas music, because Whitley is writing a Christmas book for a publisher in the UK. Meanwhile, hummingbirds fight over the feeder on our balcony. It's strange to be emotionally plunged into the Christmas season while it's still summer--I keep having moments of panic, when I think, "Wait--I haven't started my Christmas SHOPPING yet!" We often go back to San Antonio for Christmas to have dinner at the big old family house in the country, but I wonder if we soon won't be able to go home again.

When I recovered from my stroke 7 years ago, the first thing I wanted to do was return to our friends and family there. We eventually moved on to California, but that home was something I could always count on being there for me, so it makes me very sad that this possibility has now been taken away. And I'm sure I'm not alone--the same thing will happen, and is happening, to many other people too.


Hi Anne...
This also reminds me of the play: "The Trip to Bountiful" also based in Texas.
I too, can't go home. I watched my adopted hometown (USAF kid) of Biloxi Misissippi, go from a sleepy seaside resort and seafood industry propped up by Keesler AFB, to a place I don't recognize anymore.
First came the Casinos (Greed factor with itinerant crime, pawnshops, robberies, stargers from Vegas & Atlantic City) then Katrina, (Massive blowdown of all antebellum homes along US 90) and then The BP Oil Spill (beach Closure and business rupture tio an already poor state) This ruined the final attraction of teh seaside waters. A Violent change in 10 years.
It is also one of the reasons I Don't return South, my last visit we tried to play Goofy Golf at 9pm and it was so HOT & Humid my kids wilted after 5 holes.
I think drought & excessive rain is going to be a huge problem in the next decades. Guess I'll be moving to Canada...but then the icy superstorm will get me!
lol

For years I remember fox tv stating that the earth was not warming. It was something that liberals had invented. Looking back, in just about everything from war in vietnam to many other things, the liberals have been right even though I am an independent voter.

This I too, sadly believe. I grew up in the DFW area and painfully witnessed this summer, old growth trees and long lived cactus dried or rather fried to a dessicated appearance. I read an article lately in reference to this, might have been here, that explained drought eras, not just years or seasons, but eras.

As to my early life, unlike yours Anne, here in this area has never been one that I wanted to return to for good family memories, nonetheless it was here that I landed to take care of my aging parents and stabilize the early years of my children. I always said that as soon as my kids were grown, I would go to where I left my heart, that is, NYC.

Now I look at the financial climate and forces again seem to keep me tethered. With the added burdens of lack of water, this may be the final straw and motivate me regardless!

I, too grew up in San Antonio during the 1950's and early 60's. I remember my parents talking about the drought back then, but it didn't seem to affect me. There was no air conditioning yet, but I actually liked the hot weather and the high sun casting shadows on my bare feet. My street was never paved, and still isn't, but we had a corner lot with a big chinaberry tree that I could climb up and sit in and read books. My room had big screened windows on two sides and I'd fall asleep listening to the night sounds. We had a big pecan tree that bore small pecans and a big citrus tree that we couldn't identify until one year it started bearing grapefruit. I could walk to the neighborhood drug store and get cherry cokes at the soda fountain, or popsicles at the grocery up the street, or from the ice cream truck that came by every day, as did the milkman. I could catch one of the propane-powered buses downtown to see a movie at the Majestic Theater, or eat lunch at Casa Rio for 80 cents. Life was more sustainable then, more frugal, and more valued. If the place is still livable after 2012, I may still go back, even though I no longer have family to take me in. It's changed greatly, but it's heart still beckons...

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