The Road Rarely Traveled: The Ending of an Era


You can never go home again -- except when you actually, really can.

School’s been out a long time for me. I think.

This doesn’t happen. At least, I don’t think it’s supposed to.

That’s a shot up there of my old elementary school. I had planned this month’s edition around going back there. It’s been nearly 25 years since I had been in the building, and it seemed like a good bookend for my life.

You see, I left this school, went to middle school, then high school, then college. I knew that’s what I was going to do. After that, a job, a life, and a family was just going to happen. Somehow.

I’m 35 years old, and I’ve really only now gotten into that groove. I’ve been married for a number of years, though not in a terribly orthodox way. We do things differently than you would expect. I moved well far away from the only home I had known that first decade and a half of my life, up here where — and I’m not joking — we’ve had about eight feet of snow so far in just three weeks. I didn’t expect to have to wait until my mid-30s to really get a career going.

These eras of ours never do quite turn out like the storybook. And that’s okay.

So belatedly I’m ending this era. I called my old school a couple of weeks back when I was in town visiting. You don’t just show up at an elementary school in the United States and start taking pictures. When I was still a student there, maybe, but not now.

Not too many of these photos came out, as my flash just wasn’t strong enough for all of the darkness inside the building. Still, I really like these exterior shots.

They weren’t too sure even when I did call. Who was I? Why did I want to do this? Could I wait a week or two? They took my information and said they’d get back to me.

Another woman called back about an hour later. Not a problem! Just come by and say hello, and make sure not to disturb any conversations (it was parent-teacher conference day).

Oh, and if I wanted to come by and see my childhood home, that was fine too.

Wait, what?

The one photo, above all others, I wanted. Now I have it.

The woman with whom I was speaking recognized my name. She recognized the name of the people from whom she bought her home, the one where she and her husband raised three children. And, somehow, she sensed what it meant to me.

The week before, when I told relevant people about my itinerary, I mentioned that I wanted to take photos at the school and, if I had the courage, I was going to stop by my childhood home because I wanted a photo of the address number. Now, that wasn’t going to be a problem.

I lived the first seventeen years of my life in the same home. It was very stable, a very safe community, really just a lovely place to live. I lived in more than a dozen places in the few years after that, and I felt lost for a very long time. I had held hopes in the past of buying the house should it go on the market again, but I left that area before I got full-time employment.

This is my home now. Not just where I live or my house — my home.

I came up here. I got the house that really is mine.

Silly to some, but part of the fabric of my life for me.

I didn’t plan to go inside. I just rang the doorbell to let the owners know I was there and I was going to take the picture I wanted.

I was asked if I wanted to come in. I was not ready for that question.

I did go in. What was so remarkable was how little the house had changed. I could have walked around it blind-folded. Sure, the paint and carpet in the living room was different, the flooring in the front hallway was different. But like you can see above, it’s the same front door, with the same pattern I deeply knew and yet couldn’t remember well enough to draw myself. I have it again.

Seriously, this matters to me.

Then, I entered the kitchen. It was eerily the same. Different paint and different floor, but the same counter, the same sink, the same faux-brick wall (see below), and even the same oven and refrigerator. It was stunning. It’s the most at peace I’ve felt in longer than I can remember.

My fingers traced these lines between bricks more times than I can remember. My DNA is probably still there somewhere.

The deck I helped build when I was 8? Still there. The basketball hoop I learned to shoot 3-pointers on? Still there, the same one. Even the gate that kept in the tiny, weird little dog I had growing up, the strange animal we all loved, it was still the same.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the owners. I’m trying to pick out just the right gift to send them as thanks, because they’ve improved the house, updated it where it needs, but haven’t touched its soul. It’s the same home, and it’s brought another generation of children through. I am more grateful for that day than any other I can remember in so long.

When I box up their gift, I’ll know where to send it.

I feel like a chapter has been very happily closed.

Words and photos by Kevin Hodur. Previously calling suburban Chicago and Portland home, Kevin now lives and works as a writer on Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Catch more editions of The Road Rarely Traveled next month!

written by kevinhodur on 2013-12-16 in #lifestyle #120 #regular-feature #home #diana #analogue-lifestyle


  1. stratski
    stratski ·

    I'm a bit of a slob when it comes tot 'liking' and leaving comments, but I wanted to let you know I really enjoy your stories. Merry Christmas, happy new year, and keep writing those articles please!

  2. kevinhodur
    kevinhodur ·

    @stratski: Thanks, my friend. I've been rather awful at keeping up with all of the amazing work of my friends on here. Taking photos and writing are a bit of therapy for me, but I tend not to spend as much time online as I used to. A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well. More articles coming, including one I'll write in the next few days.

More Interesting Articles

  • Creative Ways to Shoot a Familiar Place

    written by Robn Kester on 2015-03-17 in #gear #tipster
    Creative Ways to Shoot a Familiar Place

    Unless you are well-traveled, there’s a pretty good chance that you are going to be shooting the same places over and over again. Here are some ways you can mix it up and make those same places fun when you shoot at them next.

  • 4 Years in Paradise: Living and Learning in French Polynesia

    written by Jill Tan Radovan on 2015-02-04 in #world #locations
    4 Years in Paradise: Living and Learning in French Polynesia

    People seek extraordinary experiences while traveling, but not everyone gets to have an adventure of a lifetime. When lomographer Stephane Heinz (popularly known as vicuna in the Lomography community) saw the opportunity, he took the chance to travel and live miles away from his hometown in France. He and his wife, Kathi, came back home with a luggage full of valuable experiences and life lessons. Vicuna tells us about his four-year adventure in French Polynesia in this travel special.

  • Newcomer of the Week: haydenwilliams

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-05-24 in #world #lifestyle #videos
    Newcomer of the Week: haydenwilliams

    Originally from USA, biochemistry student Hayden Williams traveled halfway across the world to continue his studies in Hong Kong. Going to the Far East opened an opportunity for him to explore what he truly love the most: photography. His adventures in his current home, no matter how spontaneous, are captured in well-executed double exposure photographs. Meet our newcomer of the week, haydenwilliams.

  • Shop News

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    At 25% off you can take dreamy 35mm images with this little black beauty. Beam coloured light into your shots with its accompanying Diana Flash Back accessory and be the analogue king of the night.

  • When the Soul Speaks Through Images: an Interview with Suji Park

    written by bgaluppo on 2015-05-21 in #people #lifestyle
    When the Soul Speaks Through Images: an Interview with Suji Park

    When a truly fascinating photograph hits you, it’s powerful enough to transport you to the story that is being told in that image. Such is what happens when one sees Suji Park's work for the first time. It’s as if you can actually hear and feel the details of each snapshot — the warmth of a late afternoon sun, the complex silence of nature or a dry and nostalgic solitude.

  • Photo of the Day by gionnired

    written by cheeo on 2014-12-14 in #news
    Photo of the Day by gionnired

    When a cool-looking car's cruising down the road, you know you just have to stop and take a photograph. Congratulations gionnired for winning Photo of the Day!

  • Falling In Love With The LC-A 120

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-04-06 in #gear #reviews
    Falling In Love With The LC-A 120

    There are quite a few perks that come with working for a film photography company, and the best perk of all is testing out the latest cameras. I can remember buying my LC-A back in 2009 and being really inspired to shoot film again. When the LC-A 120 came along, I couldn't wait to try it out around London. Join me as I test out this super medium format beauty.

  • Shop News

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Shoot wider and bigger with this new instax camera that has film format twice the size of the instax mini films!

  • A Round-up of Lomography Events Around the World in September

    written by dop on 2015-09-03 in #world #news #events
    A Round-up of Lomography Events Around the World in September

    If you are looking for some lomographic entertainment this month in your home city or if you are traveling the world and want some insider tips from our lomography teams, here’s a selection of what is going on in Lomography Gallery and Embassy Stores around the world.

  • Uwe Mimoun: the Man Behind KONO! Reanimated Film

    written by bgaluppo on 2015-07-31 in #people #lifestyle
    Uwe Mimoun: the Man Behind KONO! Reanimated Film

    Branded as "The Reanimated Film," KONO! Film is hand-rolled and made of special materials which are rarely (or never) produced for "normal“ photography. Rather, the materials were intended for the motion picture industry and the results can vary depending on how the film is used. Learn more in this interview with the founder of KONO! Film, Uwe Mimoun.

  • Turn Your Lomographs Into Beautiful Analogue Prints — Handmade By Lomography

    written by shhquiet on 2015-03-24 in #gear #news
    Turn Your Lomographs Into Beautiful Analogue Prints — Handmade By Lomography

    You've shot tons of really fantastic film photos — why not turn them into analogue prints that you can proudly showcase in your home, studio or office? If you're not sure where to have them printed, try Analogue Prints — the perfect print service for analogue photographers. Lomographers in Austria, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain can take advantage of this awesome service right now!

  • Shop News

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Done shooting and want your films to be processed? We can process your colour and black & white 35mm, 120 or 110 films! Development, prints and scans are also included. (Service availability depends on your markets)

  • Mad Color Light Painting Tricks For The Lomo'Instant

    written by camilla_illa on 2014-12-15 in #lifestyle
    Mad Color Light Painting Tricks For The Lomo'Instant

    Light painting is such an intriguing and fascinating technique. Using your Lomo'Instant, you can actually use common household objects to create stunning and colorful light painted pictures while having lots of fun!

  • So here’s what we’ve been working on: an all new

    written by recurving on 2015-02-03 in #world #news
    So here’s what we’ve been working on: an all new

    For the last year we've been working on the next version of Lomography. We based our work on the feedback you’ve given us over the years and we wanted to share it as early as possible with you and can’t wait to hear what you think. Just one warning first: it is still in development and things can break. All the photos, comments, likes, homes and everything else were transferred as of October 16th, 2014. So anything you do on won't be reflected on and vice versa. Once we are done with testing, everything you did here will be deleted again. So this is a big playground for you to explore.

  • LaserSoft Imaging’s SilverFast Brings Your Scans to Life (Part 1)

    written by Robn Kester on 2015-09-29 in #gear #reviews #tipster
    LaserSoft Imaging’s SilverFast Brings Your Scans to Life (Part 1)

    There is an assortment of applications you can use to scan your film, but I will tell you why you should be using SilverFast over all of the others. Its power is unrivaled, and once you get the hang of it, you will not want to go back.