Friday, February 1, 2013

Rememberance of things past

This morning I was lamenting to my husband that, outside of our cozy little bedroom chats, I don't have a safe space in which to speak.  When I try to air my views on Facebook, it seems that there is always someone there to take offense or try to convince me that I'm wrong.  And while I have often said that what our society needs right now is more debate, not less, my impulse at the moment is to get some things off my chest, not to form a dialogue with others.  Right now I need a place where I can explore my views, because one cannot debate with others until one has a firm idea of how one feels.  And then I remembered this blog.

I'm sure that by now no one is reading this thing, but perhaps that makes this the safest space of all, one where I can explore my feelings freely without any fear of being slammed down by others.  So I'm going to start writing here again, starting today.

What's really bothering me today is the sense that the world that I grew up in no longer exists.  I'm not talking about a simple nostalgia for LP records and typewriters.  Those types of material things have always changed and will always change, and our modern alternatives are usually far better, anyway.  Likewise, ever since I ended my first year of college and came home for the summer, I've had a feeling that the town I grew up in was going on with life without me, but I think this is entirely normal as well.  I always knew that if I wanted to move back there, it would be like catching up on a soap opera one hasn't watched in 10 years; some faces would be the same, some would be different, and different storylines might be at the forefront, but with some effort, it would be possible to catch up and at least understand what was going on at the present and the broad outlines of what had occurred in the past.

This is different, because now my very childhood home is gone.  Ok, so it's not literally gone.  We still own the house and can still enter it if we choose.  I could even bring a sleeping bag and camp out in my old room if I wanted to!  But all the contents have been sold off at auction.  My yellow piano isn't there anymore, and neither is Buster Brown on top of the kitchen cabinet.  Of course I salvaged the most important things to me and have brought them here, where I'm trying to find a way to fit them into my new life.  But the whole fabric of that old life has been irreparably damaged.

Again, I guess this is something that happens to most people eventually.  (Although not to my husband, who is living in his childhood home surrounded by his parents' things and complains about that too, that he feels the past enveloping him like a shroud and not allowing him to move on.)  But I'd always thought that if and when this happened, I'd be able to make a new home for myself if I chose, to find a different farm in North Dakota with trees and grass and a river and live there instead.  But now I'm realizing that is never going to happen.  As this article in the New York Times made clear, the old North Dakota that I knew is gone and never coming back.  Whether the oil boom continues and North Dakota becomes another Texas, with everyone living in McMansions and sporting bling, or it busts and things empty out again, it will never be exactly the way it was when I was a child.  It will never be so unsullied again.  And that I something that I mourn.