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Going back is my specialty.
Recently, I journeyed to my birthplace and personal Mecca all of things food, sand and sea—Long Island, NY.
My childhood is wrapped up in hazy memories of trips on the ferry, my face smacked with the smell of salt in the air. Melted coconut Popsicle on sandy toes. Biting my lip right before diving before the white crest of a wave.
Nostalgia can be bittersweet. Before you lays the landscape and the people you knew so well, but every time, the town moves on. You recognize the change in yourself. You’re at a stalemate, caught between what you knew and what you have become.
Everyone talks about progression, but moving forward requires more an ultimatum to either shed tradition or cling to it. Progression is about a loyalty to the idea of that happiness being recaptured. Reborn.
I can’t bottle the peak of my happiness as a girl through the beach, or in the bites of New York pizza between my teeth. But I can move on without forgetting. I can go back without regret.
Towns need progression, too. Without a determination to remain loyal to what the community does and could represent, a town dies.
I haven’t been in Lawrenceburg long, but even as a transplant, I understand the value of community. It seems to be alive and well in this part of Kentucky.
But you won’t ever be able to recapture whatever Lawrenceburg used to be, if you happen to speak in the past tense about it. It’s easier to harness lighting in a bottle.
I should know. It’s taken me years to get beyond whining about how things just aren’t how they used to be, and how much I wish the old things and the familiar people were back, frozen in those same roles as I had left them.
In the midst of the revisit, there is always the danger of replaying old memories, and forgetting to make new ones.
But I’ve trained myself to leave nostalgia for now, and pick it back up once my suitcase and road map are in the car with me for the trip back home.
You need something to think about when you’re staring at trees in West Virginia for about 12 hours.
We can remember the last time we went diving for clams just as the new ones pop up between our toes.
I can sit in the church where my two sisters were baptized, and remember that I am about my young parents’ age when they first started bringing us.
I may not be able to taste always the salt of the Atlantic Ocean on my tongue, but my children will be able to describe its saltiness.
It’s in the storytelling of the place. Lawrenceburg may be a small, “bedroom community,” but that’s not all there is. There are richer, more unique stories that I haven’t heard yet.
And believe me, I’m willing to listen.