I’m living that adage as I type. A place I lived for thirty years appears as a stranger after having been gone for ten and despite returning every year since. I expect “progress” and its half-siblings, “gentrification” and “destruction”. But the very feel of the place has changed so much that it’s as if I’m brand new to the area and just happen to know my way around.
I can point out where important to me places once stood; I can barely remember what those long ago points of interest once looked like, but there is no sense of familiarity. No more favorite sandwich shop, the hospital where I was treated for my first bout of strep throat. Just a lot of, “I used to go to a place that used to be right there.” My first job still stands on that one corner, but jobs three, four, and five? Dispensary, liquor store, and vacant lot. In that order.
There are still people here who open their arms to me with warmth, care, and a sense of continuity. But beyond them, beyond those last remaining addresses that haven’t changed in forty plus years, there is nothing. Perhaps a cold indifference lingers, nothing to be enjoyed. I have no desire to repeat its embrace.
So. Now what? When what was called home has lost that loving feeling? What’s the prodigal off-spring to do now?
Road Trippin. I love it. Even when the drive is ten to twelve hours (my limit in one sitting these days), there is something about being on the open road that I love. This drive took a morbid turn when in one of those stretches of silence I thought about being dead. Although, perhaps “being” is the wrong verb to use. I mean, dead is the absence of action, right? Anyway, there is this indescribable feeling that tingles through me when I think about what happens after living is done. The idea catches me by surprise more often than I’d like, but I suppose as a sentient being, I’m bound to have moments where I contemplate “the end”. Just wish it didn’t freak me out so much. Oh but then, I guess if I live life the right way, by the time the Grim Reaper introduces itself, I’ll be more than ready for the nothing. I will have done all I wanted to do. Fingers crossed. The plan is to be in my hundreds, sitting on my front porch over looking a large stretch of beach next to an even larger body of water. Sun shining, fresh air a blowing, Pablo my pool boy strutting around looking sexy as hell and me sitting comfortably in a rocking chair sippin’ something fruity but not overly sweet. I’m feeling good but tired when I decide it’s time for a nap. As I slip peacefully into slumber, the great beyond opens and invites me in. (there’s that indescribable feeling again, is it maybe the biggest fear I’ve ever felt?)
Anyway, the whole deal is what ran through my head on my annual trip to my hometown. It was a bittersweet mix of emotions – more so than normal. The workshop was the best I’ve had to date. There were 30 or so attendees, the energy was positive, the interaction great. Sold 12 books. I had a blast! Saw my good friends…then it snowed. For two days. And I ran out of time to see some more of my friends. And my head started to hurt. And I was reminded of why I moved in the first place as it seemed everywhere I looked, the things that I’d loved about the city when I was a kid were all gone (see the first paragraph).
I’ve got to go back though. Not just because I have such a blast doing the writer’s workshops but because it’s where my heart (dear family and friends) is, and you know what they say about hearts and their homes.