Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time Travelin'


We took a little trip in the time machine this weekend. Well actually we took a trip in the Mini Cooper, but the roads we travelled led down to my hometown for a bit of nostalgia and a peek into the places of my past. It's been decades since I left, and geographically a lot has changed there. New businesses and freeways, the riverfront has been dramatically changed with the addition of a convention center, riverboat casino and Riverwalk on top of the flood wall. It's very definitely a city focused on the tourist trade, and yet.....it is not a cheerful place. The natives may not be restless, but neither do they appear to be happy for the most part. Many of the everyday walking around folks have frowns, that judging from the creases, seem to be a permanent part of their facial landscapes. The folks who provide services are often crabby and seem to feel put upon by the need to be gracious to the traveler. The "Thank you for coming," and "Have a nice day" are often barked or growled, and we were pretty sure that was not what they were really thinking. I was reprimanded twice in a mere two days there for "infractions" of rules. R asked me if I remembered the town in this way. It's hard to know, as growing up I was steeped in whatever mood the place had, and it's hard to recall it objectively. But as I think back, maybe there was a general unhappiness, a dourness of mood. Maybe this is part of what I left to escape. I knew there was something I could never put my finger on. When I was growing up there, it was an industrial town. Some people made good livings from the union wages paid by the two big companies. Many others just eked by. It seems much more prosperous now, overall. But apparently it is not a whole lot happier place. I used to say that you could toss a kleenex on the street and come back three years later and it would still be there, because in this place time stood still. While this is no longer true in some ways, perhaps it in others it remains so.

We had a good time, none the less. We did all the required touristy things. We took the riverboat sightseeing tour and rode the funicular cable car that goes up and down the bluff. We walked in the lovely bluff top park that was my home away from home for much of my adolescence and early adulthood. We "did" the Riverwalk and saw all the places that were parts of my early life....the house, the church, the schools that knew me when. We ate, we shopped, we bought candy at the local candy shop. It was a good trip, and I'm glad we went for lots of reasons. Traveling together, we learned more about each other, and I have another interesting piece to put into the puzzle of the things that shaped and formed me. It was good to go, but it was also very good to come home again.

1 comment:

mompriest said...

I went back to my home town four years ago (to bury my mother). It was very different, of course, after almost 40 years. But it too was depressing and worn, in many ways. Odd. Not what I anticipated.

I suspect this trip will give you food for thought for awhile to come.