15 years, I spent in Northern Colorado. I got to the know the place pretty damned well in that decade-and-a-half. I love the area, in fact.
I love the area, but I left. For a number of reasons I left…a year and a half ago, to be semi-precise. Today I’m back for a visit.
I’m back for a visit, and I don’t recognize the place.
Look, I know shit changes, but this is insane! Blocks and blocks of new developments where once there were empty fields. I stopped counting major constructions sites at 25 — and that was just in one small area!
As often as I’ve lived it — and that is often enough to know it for absolute truth — I still get blindsided by the feelings and emotions behind Thomas Wolfe’s* famous wisdom that you can’t go home again.
*No, not that Tom Wolfe. Different writer…but one who was just as brilliant.
I sat down to try and capture my morning in a blog post. The trouble wasn’t a lack of words, to be honest, it was a surfeit of them. I couldn’t capture it, that feeling of alienation and distance in a place so intimately familiar. I couldn’t capture the memory, and the nostalgia. Just as I couldn’t capture the nagging sense of loss, of something left behind. Over two thousand words I wrote, and still I couldn’t capture it.
Screw it, I decided. When a lot of words won’t work, go for just a few. After a moment to “Select All” then “Delete”, I started over with a blank screen and my normal flashfiction challenge: one hour to conceive, write and post a story. This time it wasn’t a story based on an image or a lyric, but one based on the hours I just spent driving around Loveland and Fort Collins.
I haven’t written it yet, by the way, It is currently 12:33pm and I’m sitting on the patio of a small taproom/restaurant in Fort Collins with a beer at my elbow and some pizza on the way. I have until 1:30 to hit “Post Now”. Let’s see how this goes…
“But I Have”
The sun baked, hurt his head. The sweat had given up an hour ago, too tired and hot to flow any longer. The pain had fled, too, thankfully. Now the sun’s burns were just a nuisance…one he knew he would pay for soon enough.
The buildings offered no shade, not with the sun directly overhead. He wandered anyway. He wandered the town’s central plaza and stared, searching for some sense of welcome. For some sense of home.
“Can I help you find something?” She asked, all solicitude and friendliness.
It always had been a friendly place, this.
Can you help me find it all again? he thought. Can you help me find who I used to be? Who I am now?
“No, thanks. Just…remembering. The place has changed since I lived here,” he answered with his own smile.
“Was it long ago that you lived here?”
“A couple of years.”
She looked puzzled, then. “It can’t have changed too much…”
He sighed and turned, started to walk away. A look back and he answered, “But I have.”
1:06pm. I guess I coulda spent another few minutes editing and re-writing…but that ain’t the challenge, is it? I don’t know if the story worked, but I’m glad I wrote it nonetheless…