Rendered Fat Content


"We must be heading somewhere else."

The map doesn't hint at the disparity between what it represents for us and what we'll find there. The roads seem unchanged, though a few new businesses have sprouted up along the still familiar route. My first visit, twenty years ago now, and The Muse's childhood here moved away long ago, leaving what was then the future in their wake. We, hampered by memories and lingering, long-lost first impressions, reenter for the first time again. We wade through what we expected to find, hardly able to see what we find. Old relationships have become history. Relatives still familiar, though everyone's been constantly changing since the last time we came. Us, too. We feel no more than almost familiar to ourselves here now.

The end isn't coming because it already came, elbowed aside by new beginnings again.
We don't seem so much like strangers until we return to find little evidence of our previous passages here. Of course we still remember the way into town but a few more of the old places along the way have come down in our absence and a few new ones sprang up, each so different from the simple structures serving past inhabitants. Boards melt into the soil, only the odd roof-peak still peeking through the stubble. The Muse remembers the names of the long gone families who used to populate the now hollow spots along the road. A clutch of rhubarb and a daffodil or two also still recall those earlier times.

We grew to believe the hometown had grown backwards or more slowly than the larger cities we inhabited. Leave any place behind and its growth slows to a stall until you come calling again. It never did depend upon your presence to thrive. Your absence affected nothing, not change and not no change, either. Every place seems to live independently of its inhabitants and indifferent to its expatriates. If you're not in the neighborhood you will not keep up no matter how closely you read the local paper or follow your local friends' Facebook feeds. A deep sense of insignificance might follow you back home to watch you re-experience a deep sense of insignificance.

We'll try to catch up but it's not really our race. We'll try to maintain a parallel pace for the few days we're here. We will excuse ourselves off to the basement guest room, feeling like aliens even to each other down there. Where will we hover while this brief time passes? Where will we head on the morning we leave? Any attempt to return home seems to disconnect us from the time's standard continuity. Heads in the past, fingers trembling on the tenuous edge of the future, we might no more than feign presence. My throat lumps up in humbled recognition. We are NotGoingHome again. We must be heading somewhere else.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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