There is a great movie titled "Somewhere in Time", starring the ever beautiful Jane Seymour and the late Christopher Reeves. Rent it sometime and watch it with your spouse. However, this post isn't about that movie.
This weekend I went back to where I was born, raised, and raised hell. It was Memorial Day weekend, and like most American families, we had our big cookout saturday at the home of my sister. I am so proud of my sister. She made a lot of mistakes growing up (choices of boyfriends, husbands, careers, teen pregancy, financial struggles, poor self image) but has really turned her life around in the last decade. Has two great daughters and her husband is a good guy. They just built a nice pool and are doing well economically, so she had the whole family come over and enjoy the day.
Her daughters are in college and all their friends came as well. It was quite humorous when they started drinking lite beer (yuck) and I pulled out my Shiner Bock. They didn't even know what kind of beer it was. They were smoking cigarettes or swisher's, and I pulled out my Punch Primo cigar, lit it up and kicked back like the wise dude I am. When querried about my brand of beer and smoke, I told 'em I'm getting to the age where I don't know if I got minutes or years left, and by god I aint' gonna be caught dead with cheap beer or cigars. They just laughed. And kept laughing even after I drank 'em under the table with Padron Agave Tequila shots. I told 'em I have had more practice so it was kind of unfair.
Anyway, before all of this, I awoke at 6:15 a.m. My great aunt was celebrating her 95th birthday at her church some 20 miles away from where I was staying, at 8:30a.m. with a breakfast (I guess as this age they didn't want to chance doing it at lunch time in case she didn't make it those next few hours of the day). So I got up and left everyone sleeping at the house and took off.
This is where I grew up. My hometown area. Lots of memories. The quietness of the countryside and little east texas towns was striking. Locals cautiously watched me pass with a kind of who-is-that-look and a glancing wave. I was driving a "fur-uhn car" as they call it in their East Texas venacular. Its a Toyota Camry. You don't see much of those around that part of the country. Fords, Chevys and Dodges dot the landscape. Trucks mostly. Old Union yellow dawg democrats still control the mind set of this area, and the lack of ecomonic development and the dying steel mill does much to reinforce this. The slogan "Buy American" carries a whole different meaning here. I don't have the heart to tell them their Fords have over 20% of parts made in Mexico.
I stopped by the graves of my great grandparents, my great uncle, and others. I drove to my grandparents old place just outside of town. They have passed on now, but it is still amazing to me how these sights and sounds and smells can trigger long forgotten memories. I looked over the house and the pasture (which had grown up, as young folks don't tend to keep them up like the older generations did) and then drove backroads I haven't been on in almost 20 years. I had the window down and my left arm hanging out while just driving slowly, taking it all in. The old houses I had forgotten about. Some new ones that were placed here or there over the years. The smell of cows and cut grass met my nose in a familiar, comfortable way. I turned a corner to find four or five horses walking down the road toward me. It was an instant game of chicken. They weren't budging. They just looked at me like "dude, your on our road". They finally stepped aside and let me pass. I stopped by my mom's gravesite. It is always sobering for me. I had no words.
I make it to my aunt's breakfast at 8:15 a.m. and am greeted by people I haven't seen in decades and they still remember my name. Amazing. I know I'm supposed to know them, but time and distance has darkened my memory some. They were here when I grew up. They are still here. They are the earth of this place. They came from it, toiled it, live on it and someday will return to it. I feel like an outsider, mainly due to my own self consciousness. But there is some comfort in the familiar, and it is hard to shake. I felt relaxed. Safe.
I visited, shook some hands, hugged some others, told 'em what a big success I have become away from them and they seem so proud that someone actually moved away and is fairly successful. For them, time is standing still. They do not get out much, being content with what the lord and the land has provided them. The times are tough there, but so are the people.
You can still see the past in the present. It is haunting to me. And my memories linger....somewhere in time.