Home again, home again

21 08 2011

Did I mention that my mother got a tattoo for her birthday?

On her ankle, about an inch-and-a-half, two inches.

A butterfly.

Apparently, she’s long wanted one, but only now did the time seem right.

Besides, she said, I’m at that age where everything that was going to sag has sagged.

~~~~~

When I was in college it was easy to go home; it was still “home”, after all.

I left for good when I left for my second year of college—not that I knew that at the time. It was just that I decided to stay in Madison in a sublet that summer and work, then the following summer I was in my apartment and working, and then, y’know graduate school.

I kept stuff at my parents’ house, gradually moving it to whatever apartment I was in in Minneapolis (I moved a lot those first few years), then moved some of it back to their attic when I hied on out to Montreal.

And there was a big drawer reserved for some clothes, which was then downsized to a smaller drawer. I still have some old running shoes there, which came in handy this last visit.

Oh, and I went through a bunch of boxes that were still in the attic. I thought they were just grad-school books, but there were toys, stuffed animals, files, and some books from when I was a kid.

The Great Brain, Encyclopedia Brown, a few books by Ruth Chew, and the first book I ever read (memorized, really), The Monster At The End Of This Book.

I don’t particularly like sentimentality, but I thought, what the hell, I can keep some of those old books.

So I still have a box. And a drawer.

~~~~~

When did it become strange to go back to SmallTown?

Like I said, it was normal when I was in college, and probably into graduate school, as well. Maybe it was when I stopped returning for Thanksgiving: Minnesota was on a trimester system then, and the fall quarter ended the first week of December—too close to the end to leave town.

Maybe when I ran away to Albuquerque, and had Christmas dinner with T. and her then-husband at their apartment in the NE quadrant of ABQ.

Who knows. At some point when I said I was going “home” it sounded strange to me, to use the term “home” for a place which was once, but never would be again. Home, now, would be where I lived.

Still, even today, I’m not at all sure I’m home.

~~~~~

This last visit discombobulated me. It was normal to go back, then it got hard, and then it was a rush, and now, now it’s just odd.

When it was hard, it was as if I flipped a switch to return: Blue when I’m out of state, notched over to red when I’m in state.

Either/or.

Now, now things are blurry, and they slide along rather than click over one side to the other.

Not bad, really, but in some ways it was easier when it was hard.





Where never is heard a discouraging word

16 08 2011

So I went away for awhile.

Surprised my mom for her 70th birthday. Made her happy.

And I saw old friends, of course, which meant I drank and ate (cheese curds!) and laughed and drank and ate and laughed. That was good. Made me happy.

I walked all over town, down past the dime store and up and around the old elementary school and junior high (now just a middle school) and over to the athletic field.

It seemed so big, back then. Now, it was just quiet.

And T. and I walked amongst the sand dunes  at a park we call Terry-Andrae but the state calls Kohler-Andrae:

When I was a kid my family regularly camped at Terry-Andrae, along with a group of my parents’ friends. (I smoked my first cigarette at 9 with B., who was 11. Coughed. A lot.) We’d tear around on bikes or go tromping along the dunes or thread our way through the trees—anything where we could pretend we were completely on our own.

Anyway, I remember the dunes as more sand than green, and there were no wooden pathways through the ups-and-downs, but, y’know, folks nowadays are much more concerned about preservation than anyone was back in the ’70s.

We used to launch ourselves off the tops of the dunes, counting on the sand below to give and slide down with us. That lower part of the dune, looking out over Lake Michigan, is still sandy (didn’t take a shot of that), so it could still be done.

You might get yelled at by park rangers, though.

No ranger in sight at the park below the falls in town:

The river is brown and muddy; it’s been brown and muddy for as long as I can remember.

My mom, who grew up in town, remembers when the dyes of the woolen factory (pictured below; now converted into apartments) would turn the river green or red or blue.

That rusted-brown bridge in the back? That was an active railroad bridge back in the day (since decommissioned, although there is talk of bringing it back), one which we would cross as kids.

Weren’t supposed to, of course, and you had to screw up your courage to do it the first time, but after awhile it was second nature to skip across the ties rather than take the sidewalk on the “regular” bridge.

Yeah, that’s all closed off now, too, though I bet kids are still finding their ways across that bridge.





On the occasion of emptying my mind and taking deep breaths and otherwise trying to make it through

6 12 2010

Or, my parents visiting:

It was fine.