The other day I had a strange experience. Someone had posted a video of the fourth of July celebration in the community where I used to live on the Maine Coast. I had this strange deja vu sensation. Here was the Town Hall, the roadway, and the view off to the coast that was so familiar. There was the old school house that was a landmark. But all the people were strangers. The people driving the fire engines and cars looked nothing like the folk in my memory. The older people looked not at all like the ones I remembered, and the youth among whom I had once numbered were all alien to me.
Of course, I’ve been gone forty-seven years. Young people are now old, and the old long time departed. Still, some of me kept asking where the people I knew were. I stowed this bit of cognitive dissonance away, but I guess it wasn’t done with me yet because today, I read a post of someone vacationing there. Their photos and maps brought all the dissonance back to the forefront.
I should take a weekend with my wife and drive up and visit. But then I thought not. What is there about visiting a place that has all the memories, feelings and landmarks but none of the people? You are a sort of a stranger in a known landscape.
At the diner, the wait staff asks if you are visiting for long, and a light conversation develops as you explain that you used to live there. The motel clerk is local and confirms what you already knew; all your contemporaries are moved to Florida, deceased, or in memory care units. The house that was your home has been torn down and is a development of new homes. You are officially ancient.
At last, you glance across the cove from the restaurant and know how final change is because the 34-foot ketch that centered most of your life here is forever gone.
No, I don’t think I’ll visit and confirm what I already know but wish to deny.