Photography and story by Andrew Flack
A friend recently told me that I’m living proof you can go home again. So far, after a couple months back in South Jersey, I’m happy to report she may be right.
Born in Camden in the shadow of Walt Whitman’s grave, raised in a pregentrified Collingswood with summers on LBI and fishing from my uncle’s garvey out of Waretown, a graduate of Stockton State College before it was a university, I shook the sand out of my shoes and left Surf City in September of 1975 for Manhattan and never looked back.
Forty-five years later, with extended stops in Los Angeles; the Twin Cities; Taos, New Mexico; Denver and the mountains of Colorado, twice, my wife and I have returned to what I like to call my ancestral homeland, to see what this once-familiar place still holds. As it’s turning out – quite a lot.
Not that we didn’t enjoy the natural beauty of living in those far-flung locales; the friends we made along the way, the adventures we had, and the work we did. But were any of those places we lived and called home ever truly home? And did I even give any of that a second thought when at twenty-four I’d just set sail on what appeared to be an endless sea?
As a writer and marketer, I’ve been fortunate to have found career opportunities beyond this place, connections which didn’t exist here at that time, openings elsewhere which gave my destiny-shaping wanderlust free rein. And sure, there was a price to pay, a line to join where I’d start closer to the end than the beginning. The new kid in town; not a local, not a native, the transplant, just a guy passing through.
But pretty much every time the dice were offered, I rolled them, which rolled me further and further from this place I was from.