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Head Coach: Who says you can't go back?

By By Lane Johnson
Nov. 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.


My wife and I recently took an old-fashioned road trip. Two weeks in the family car going wherever the wind took us.

We had no place we had to be nor any schedule we had to keep. When we got tired, we found somewhere to rest for the night.

Did you know that you can still find fairly nice one-story, single row motels with neon-lighted vacancy signs in the front? It reminded me of how my family used to travel when I was a kid. We never made reservations. We just looked for the flashing vacancy signs when we got tired.

It's amazing how much you can see and do when you aren't on a schedule. We walked along the Natchez Trace; visited Helen Keller's birthplace and childhood home; stood on the Appalachian Trail; peered out over the Smoky Mountains from its highest peak on Clingmans Dome; strolled the gardens of the Biltmore Estate; toured downtown Charleston, S.C., by horse and buggy; and climbed to the top of Chimney Rock in North Carolina.

The first and only other time I stood on Chimney Rock was as a child when my parents took me. For some reason, this place left an impression I have never forgotten. I have always wanted to return. It took me 50 years, but now I can say I've been back. The impression was the same. It was as though I was a kid again.

We traversed nine states, taking in as much beauty, intrigue, curiosity and antique stores as we could find. Do you know how many antique stores there are in nine states?

Our final stop of interest was Pascagoula, Miss. I lived there for one year as a sophomore in high school. I mentioned that fact as we approached the exit sign for Pascagoula.

"Then let's go there!" my wife said. "You can show me where you went to high school."

It's been a lot of years since I was in Pascagoula, but I took great pride in remembering how to get to my old high school. I took us right there without even one errant turn. Boastfully pointing that out, I invited my wife to step out of the car and take a look at my version of "Happy Days."

As we approached the front steps, we noticed a big sign on the lawn. It read, "Bayview Village - For Senior Living." I was speechless. Although, even if I said something, no one would have heard me over the roaring laughter from my wife.

"Your high school is now an old folks home!" she laughed, "This is truly the funniest thing we've seen on our entire trip."

I failed to see the humor in it. I could also think of a number of other things we experienced far funnier than my alma mater now being a rest home. But, I had to admit there were an endless number of one-liners just begging to be said. And my wife was already several of them ahead of me.

"Gosh, sweetheart, you were worried about looking out of place at your age walking around the campus of your old high school. Not to worry. You fit right in. This gives a whole new meaning to the term 'your old high school.' In fact, let's look around. You might find some of your old classmates. Gee, is this Homecoming or coming home?"

I invited her to get back in the car, but she was on a roll. "Who says you can never go back to high school?"

I finally coaxed her into the car and we drove away. It was quiet for some time. I was deep in thought. She was busy holding her breath as not to laugh. I pondered how history, nostalgia and progress make strange bedfellows. Maybe sometimes you really can go back. But the criteria to make that appropriate may not be such a good thing. Being content with where we are might make more sense.

After several miles, I finally sorted it all out in my head. Until, of course, my wife broke the silence. "Well honey," she reflected, "I guess we add Pascagoula to the list of places where we visited an antique store."

Lane Johnson, M.Div., LPC, is a licensed counselor. He welcomes your comments. You can contact him by e-mail at lane@StrategicConnectionGroup.com.

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