Going Home (Sort Of)

Back in the county of his youth after a 10-year absence, associate editor Nick Brandi’s homecoming is bittersweet.

Thomas Wolfe wrote that you can’t go home again — not to your childhood, not to your dreams of glory and of fame, not to the escapes of Time and Memory.

But is this true? I would learn the answer for myself soon enough.

- Advertisement -

Making my way back to Westchester in the fall of 2015, to accept a position at Today Media, I had five hours to ponder the question in a car I had maniacally stuffed like a taxidermist on crack with an apocalypse of personal possessions. I’d been away 10 years, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, doing my best to bask in the glow of a seaside community and its laidback lifestyle. Yet Westchester was always with me. So many times when slogging through the 34-mile monotony that separates Salisbury and Ocean City, my mind would drift to the reverie of familiar things. Things like riding my mini-bike from sunrise to sunset on the grounds of our house on Evergreen Street in Yorktown; winter sleigh rides in the backyard of my family’s home on Vails Lane in Ossining, where my German shepherd would wait to knock me down and lick my face after my day at Brookside Elementary School (the alma mater of Don Draper’s kids, BTW); driving to John F. Kennedy High School in Somers in my first car, a crappy emerald-green Plymouth Duster with gaudy gold accent stripes; winter football at Sleepy Hollow High School; lecture hall at SUNY Purchase. I retrieved the faces of family, friends, and acquaintances I’d made during my life in Westchester, along with all the memories, good and bad, they engendered.

And I remembered Jon.

Jon Weaver of Sleepy Hollow was quite simply the most charismatic and talented person I’ve ever known. Disarmingly handsome and athletically gifted (he even spent a year in California, training to be a Hollywood stuntman), Jon had a near-genius-level IQ and a diamond wit adorned by the most hazel-green eyes and white-toothed smile you’ve ever seen. Everybody loved Jon — EVERYBODY. He was a man who seemed to sparkle as he glided through life (like Robert Pattinson in Twilight but less pale and with much better dialogue) — yet Jon’s greatest gift is that he made you sparkle, too. He was my best friend, and I was his.

In our youth, Jon and I would make amateur action movies on Super 8 film. Whether it was a callow James Bond rip-off or a shoestring Six Million Dollar Man sendup, we’d sometimes film for 24 hours straight and never get tired. When we were older, Jon and I would ride around Westchester all night long — from Yorktown to Yonkers — talking about life and singing duets to every cheesy (like, Olivia Newton-John cheesy) pop song that flowed from the radio of his 5.0-liter Mustang, waxing rhapsodic about the future and all the worlds we would conquer one day. If magical people really exist, Jon was their poster boy.

Jon Weaver died on September 5, 1995, at age 32, when an armed robber fired two bullets into his head, eviscerating a beautiful newlywed wife and legions of friends and family who’d come to cherish him like a gift from God. With more than two decades of temporal distance from that catastrophe, I can report with unimpeachable certitude that none of us has fully recovered.

- Partner Content -

Despite all that, I am beyond delighted to be back home. Practically ecstatic. Yet the question lingers: Can you go home again? For me, the answer is yes and no. Yes from the standpoint that I am, once again, swaddled in the warmth of familiar things; no in the sense that while my halcyon days echo in the sanctum of my mind, embellished by nostalgia, they will never be my life again.

So, yes, this is and always will be my Westchester. But more important…

This was Jon’s Westchester.  

Nick Brandi is the Associate Editor at Westchester Magazine.

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.