Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trip Down Memory Lane

If you are in your 50s, you might have experienced what I have -- this decade has been all about introspection, looking at where my life has led, and pondering my past. I have felt much more settled than I felt at younger ages, and comfortable in my own skin. I'm still a work in progress, but in my 50s I have been able to stop and take a breath and look around; mostly I'm happy with what I see. I have enjoyed a wonderful life, am happy and healthy, and remembering my past mostly brings me joy. After taking this refreshing breath, I am looking to the future feeling hopeful.

Upon retiring in 2010 I began to feel itchy to visit some of my old haunts. Two are especially big on my wish list: "P-Town" where I developed my first major memories and put down my first roots (I lived there from age 4 to age 12). And the college campus where I met my husband, and from which we both graduated.

Last weekend I partially fulfilled my first wish: to see my first "home town." I started out by visiting my mother in A-Town. I do this once a month. We chat and read and watch TV, sometimes play Scrabble, and sometimes go out to eat. On this trip we did all of those things. It was a good visit.

On my way out of town I decided very impulsively to drive over to P-Town. I had a happy childhood there and have many fond memories. To get there was to go in the exactly opposite direction I needed to go were I to head home. This meant adding hours and miles to my day. I was up for it, so off I went.

What a shock! When I pulled into the town, I felt .... so strange! It was sort of like I had to blink several times to get things into focus. My 59-year-old eyes were looking at the stuff of 12-year-old memories. It was a weird experience. (I had been back, on rare occasions, but it had been decades since I'd seen P-Town.)

First, of course, everything was smaller than I remembered. For example, the "long walk" from school to the ball field for recess was only one block. And the house at the end of our block, built up on a hill, was on the tiniest little rise of about two feet.

The second sensation was shock at how the town has deteriorated. Sad!! The downtown is almost a ghost town. Most of the stores are empty, and some are crumbling. Most of the houses are in poor condition, crumbling, small, and old. It was a vibrant place when I lived there. I am so sad for the state of P-Town.

I still have love in my heart for P-Town. I don't know of many people who still live there that I might know. I can think of only one woman who is elderly, a contemporary of my mother's. My mother will be 91 years old in two weeks. So the only ties I have to the town are my memories.

My main stomping ground is still looking pretty good. My dad was the Methodist minister, and this is the church where we spent so much time and made so many happy memories. They have kept it up well. It looks to be in good shape, though I didn't get to go inside so can only report on the outside appearance.

In 1959 they built a new Education Building. I still call it the New Building. We lived in the parsonage next to the church, so this was in my back yard.

My house! So many memories! Doesn't it still look rather stately and nice? I would absolutely love to see the inside. They remodeled the kitchen when we lived there, pretty much following my mother's specifications. I'd like to see if it's still that same kitchen.

This is where I went to the last half of elementary school. The older building, where I had first and second grade, has been torn down.

My best friend's house. Two blocks from my house. Lots of memories here, too.

The municipal swimming pool. Here is where I conquered my fear of a water slide.

This is in a nearby town. This church was added to my dad's responsibilities, so we sometimes went to both churches for various reasons. My fondest memory in this church is singing a trio with my two sisters. It is now a private residence!

There were many other places that brought back a flood of memories. I won't show them all... they mean next to nothing to you. But it was a fulfilling and interesting and weird day for me. I hope to go back later this year with my sisters and mom, and maybe get to see the insides of some of these places, and visit with the one or two people still there who remember us.

Good luck to P-Town for a bright future. From here it looks like it will take a miracle. I just hope the people living there now are happy and are building good memories, as I was so lucky to do.

A beautiful sunset bids me adieu as I head back home.


Unknown said...

I grew up close to where we live now..so no trip home..but... last summer when at my mom's several of us siblings went for a walk... I remember thinking that the long walk to school was really really short...like 2 blocks...but 1/2 if you "cut' thru the woods! But then being little with short legs...

Sarah said...

Sadly a lot of the small towns are getting smaller and smaller. I moved back to my hometown and there are lots of people in the town but many less businesses than when I was growing up. I work the next town over and they are really spearheading renovating downtown and then bringing in new businesses. It's nice to see how busy it is during the day (there are now 5 hair salons in a town of 2500, 3 accountants, a butcher ship, etc) but rolls up after 9pm.

Sextant said...

Very lovely post (and not one quilt in it). Nothing quite like nostalgia, but when you see things have gone down hill it is bittersweet at best. Great post.