Thursday, August 07, 2008

Going Home Again

Time goes, you say? Ah no!
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.
Stepping onto the street that stretched back down to the newspaper office, the sense of time's passing was not so strong. It felt more the same, like it was fifteen years ago.

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.


Charles Gramlich said...

The world changes much faster than we do. I'd given a bit of dough to see the look on that fellow's face when he saw your skull ring.

Lana Gramlich said...

I agree. Oddly I just posted a comment about this phenomenon on someone else's blog. Things like witnessing those kinds of changes & standing at the bottom of the Niagara Gorge make me feel as small & insignificant as I truly am (although that's not a BAD thing.)

Steve Malley said...

After so many years in Another Land, I returned to Minnesota for a brief visit a few years ago. Time after time, I'd want to revisit old haunts only to be told, "It no longer exists."

Shauna Roberts said...

I feel exactly the same way when I go home. The farms have given way to vast expanses of tract homes, the stores I shopped at are gone, and many of the major roads have been renamed and/or rerouted (now they go straight instead of zigzagging around farms). Quite an odd feeling.

Bridges said...

You should have just given Christine the Skull Ring for her engagement ring.

Just sayin'

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Hey, Sid. I know there's more to your visit to the old haunts. Nothing stays the same anymore, if it ever really did. Maybe our early recollections were simply illusions. I'm still your constant, amigo.

Erik Donald France said...

Beautiful Proustian contemplation on the passage of time.

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