They say you can’t go home again.
The familiar saying is usually true. When you go to a place you remember from your past, it is seldom the way you remember it. But if your home town is in the middle of nowhere and stuck in time, you can find yourself transported to your youth.
This happened to me a couple of weeks ago, when I returned to my hometown for a funeral.
Most people have never heard of the town where I spent the earliest years of my life: Cedarville, California. According to Citydata.com, the town’s population in 2010 was 514, and I suspect the number has only declined in the last nine years. Like everywhere else, the big is consuming the small, and the small fights for its existence.
This was evident throughout the tiny town, where vehicles still park perpendicularly on main street. Old businesses were shut down, and many that remain are now owned by the same family. The grade school no longer has enough students to justify the use of a building. Classes from kindergarten through 12th grade are currently held in the high school. The county no longer has enough money to offer a carnival at the annual fair. The list goes on.
However, many things remain the same. Drivers still wave at each other as they pass on the road. Businesses are likely to be referred to by who owns them, rather than their actual name or address. No one is in a hurry. The landscape remains beautiful, the quiet and stillness palpable.
My heart ached with memories. The motel we stayed at was across from the shop my dad once owned. I remembered when I was 12-years-old and he let my cousin and I drive his race car up the hill behind the shop, and with our minimal driving skills, we ended up damaging the car. Fields with wheel-line irrigation systems reminded me of days spent with my dad at his irrigation shop or in his truck while he worked. The burgeoning limbs of apricot trees took me back to being four-years-old and picking my favorite fruit and savoring its sweetness on hot, late summer days.
Experiencing my young daughter’s enthusiasm with the town amplified my reverie. At the vacant grade school, she played on the same monkey bars I once twirled on. She stared with amazement at the old bell in front of the school and wanted to ring it. For the first time in her life, I let her ride in a vehicle on paved roads without a safety belt. While playing in the town’s only park with her cousins she sang, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” – a song I didn’t even realize she knew.
I realized that even though Cedarville was my official residence for only a fraction of my life, it is still a part of me. The essence of it comes through in my fiction writing, mainly in my characters. The quiet smallness of it shows up in my preferences: I live in a “small” town, attend a small church. I need the peace and quiet found in nature, under a vast blue sky. Perhaps a part of it has even passed down to my children, a kind of geographic DNA.
As the weekend came to an end, my sister and I talked about buying a vacation home together in our old hometown. Our husbands looked at us like we were crazy. Maybe we are. I guess that’s what happens when you go home again and your heart longs to stay a bit longer, but life calls you back to jobs and traffic and a never-ending list of things to do.
Have you experienced the feeling of a place bringing you back to a time in your life? I’d love to hear about!
Readers will get to travel to this one-of-a-kind town in my upcoming novel One Way Home. In the meantime, you can read the first book in my Whispers of Grace series by ordering it here: One Woman Falling
Learn more about this remote place at the links below. Scroll down for more pictures!
Oh it has changed so much since I was a kid! Not much is the same there now and it makes me sad. So many memories I have. Melanie you are a wonderful writer. Enjoy reading all you write.
Thank you Vera!
What a great read. I sure miss it there.
Thanks! Me too.
It sure is a wonderful place to grow up.. We returned and are now raising our family here. There is nothing like this valley.
It’s definitely one of a kind. It’s great you were able to move back!
No place like the valley. I returned five years ago after a twenty-nine year absence. It’s good to be home.
It’s great you were able to return!
Great story. Cedarville is a great little town. Hard to see these places fall.
It is hard to see. I was so sad to hear that the grade school is vacant.
Nice to read a post about Cedarville! Yes, it’s so sad to see it in decline. Always important to watch out for the cows.😉
We lived in Cedarville from 1950-1958; my folks owned the newspaper. I still have fond memories and think of Cedarville as my home town. Thanks for the article.
I’m glad you liked my post Dar. I can’t help but wonder what Cedarville was like in the 1950’s.
Visited Cedarville years ago to attend Heather’s grandmas funeral. I’m glad I got to experience it, nothing like I ever new. Thank you for your memories. Keep writing.
Thank you, Norma! There’s something about the place that sticks with you, that’s for sure.
I grew up Fort Bidwell, just 25 miles from Cedarville, went to high school and I got a chance to come back home this last spring because my town of Paradise Ca was burned so I was able to come home and spend that time with my dad and my family. My girls went to school there and they loved it, the transition from Paradise to Cedarville schools was so awesome and I got to see people I hadn’t seen in such a long time. I lived driving up and down the valley seeing all green and lush springs and lakes it was so wonderful to be home again. Your article was so nice, and the town has changed but people are what make that valley so great old timers and new timers…
I agree. 🙂
I lived in eagleville in the early 90s it changed my life forever I live in North Dakota now but think of that valley all the time
Surprise Valley seems to have that effect on people! I hope you can get back there to visit sometime.
I live in a small hamlet in Ontario Canada that is even smaller than your home town Melanie. I moved here with my husband when we married it is so different from the city I lived in. All the businesses have closed down so it has been difficult for any of our children to stay, they had to move in order to find work. But they all love to come home to mom and dad’s where the air is fresh and they can let their children play outside and not have to worry about them. It took a while for me to adjust when I moved here but now I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Small towns are the best! It’s wonderful that your children can go back home to visit and share it with their kids.
I so enjoyed reading ‘One Woman Falling’ after my son (Jesse Rivas) gifted it to me for Christmas. It was so compelling and was hard to put down! :). Looking forward to reading ‘One Way Home’ Diane
I’m so glad Jesse gave you a copy and that you enjoyed it! “One Way Home” is scheduled for release on November 1st. I’m excited to share it with readers!