You Can Try to Go Home, But …

insideHad a Rod Serling moment two weeks ago.

Few would nominate Arlington, Virginia as Twilight Zone territory (except maybe inside the Pentagon). For me it is. Fifty years ago I graduated from Washington-Lee High School in central Arlington. I returned last week for my class’s fifty-year celebration. That we alums had changed was expected.

Both the high school building and its environment had totally changed also. The old school building was a three-story classic brick high school which stretched two blocks between Stafford and Quincy. The new building looks like a hospital with a couple patches of weeds on the roof to fool the environmentalists. (It’s an LEED Gold building.)weeds The cost was obscene, but the results were an amazing educational facility. Hope the students appreciate it.

Central Arlington has changed even more. Fifty years ago single homes were giving way to garden apartment buildings and light commercial development. Today twenty-story offices and apartments crowd every major intersection. The bucolic railroad tracks which passed north of the W-L campus has been replaced by always busy Interstate 66.

What is this place, and what have you done with Arlington?

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” Thomas Wolfe
You can try to go home, but, if you try it in Northern Virginia, you’re sure to get lost.

(By the way, my house is gone, too.)


2 thoughts on “You Can Try to Go Home, But …

  1. Ron, a nice nostalgia piece. My experience is opposite, and the same. The apt. building we lived in when my father came home from WWII is still there. The following 2 houses are still there. I live within several miles of all three. My high school, St. Catherine’s is still on Grove Ave. The additions to the school resemble the older buildings. Yet when I drive by these places
    , I’m surprised, followed by a wave of nostalgia.

  2. Arlington has changed so much that I was often lost on streets I walked and drove when I was learning to drive–therefore are deeply imprinted on my memory. (Someone else was driving.) It was as if I was in an Oz-ian Arlington.

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