Alas, Time stays, we go.
--Henry Austin Dobson
This is the doleful fact, you have to go home again for funerals and that means mixed with mourning for the lost loved one is the mourning for what used to be.
I found myself staying in a hotel downtown, a place I used to go for meetings and gatherings, occasionally for a drink in the lounge. It's changed hands a few times and though preserved still has reminders it's not what it once was.
- Not the place I toured with other reporters when it opened with a flourish of elegance and grandeur, the place my buddy Raymond and I longed to shout: "Hail to the plebs."
- Not the place we went once upon a time for Christmas buffets when I had grown more patrician.
- Not the place Christine and I attended a New Year's Eve party long before we dated.
- Not the place I made a church public relations man nervous with a skull ring I wore in my horror-writer days.
It felt like I could walk up the street a few blocks, enter the front door and make my way to my desk where my stuff would be waiting including the fake photo of Jesus in the Clouds passed on to me by a predecessor with a reminder: "Don't believe everything you see or hear."
It felt like I could walk up the street and see everyone who used to be there, not just the few who remain.
On the blocks in between I found myself straining to remember what used to be here or there. The jewelry store where Christine and I picked out her engagement ring is now a restaurant.
The restaurant where I had lunch so many days was gone. I found the wooden doors though they seemed to open to nowhere, not to a special with a Coke. No shrimp po-boys, for sure.
You discover such moments, I think, only by living long enough to discover them.