Starve on Crumbs from Long Ago
The place is different, but I can't say quite how. Certainly, there are details to be noticed: this business that closed and the new one that opened in its place, a road that's been widened or stoplight added, things that were once shiny now showing their age, old things refurbished or replaced. The absence of familiar faces. It's different in spirit now as well. I was once a stitch in the fabric of this place. I knew its rhythms; I could sense its intentions. I knew all the shortcuts and shorthands. The sense of the place, its vernacular, its expectations were simple, obvious, pleasing in their familiarity.
That's not the case any longer. Now I despise this place and every aspect of it. I experience no reverie, no pang of nostalgia for my youth. I feel only my guts turning over with disgust. What was so redeeming about this place that I spent so many years here? I must have appreciated it for something, mustn't I? Perhaps I hated it all along and never noticed? Had the tawdry-ness of it, the duplicity of the environment, the ignorant self-satisfaction of the denizens somehow escaped me or has the place changed in my absence?
I would be perfectly happy never to come here again, to let the place to its own fate and to let my memories to whither until I am an aged pickaroon, unsure if it had ever been real at all or just an idle imagining.
The truth is that we do not have memories. We have memories of memories, half-faded impressions, recollections of feeling, lingering disappointments and dismissed expectations, known as well from meditation and retelling as much as from the experiences themselves. The tragedy of time is not that things pass away but that they remain, changing by degrees each day until they become something else, something reminiscent of what we once knew but still only an echo.
Obligation and idle habit brings me back here from time to time. I will, for now, choke back my own bile and hope for the day that the degrees of shifting turn this place into something less hateful or until the day I need never return.