Sunday, February 11, 2007

Time Keeps on Slipping...

A friend of mine who moved here from Knoxville about ten years ago has been talking about moving back home. I can understand the feeling; there are times when I feel the gravitational pull of Rome, GA, urging me to return to the place that I will always consider home (although I actually lived in Rome only 12 years of my life, from 1959 until 1971, after which I had a second home there from 1992 until 1999).

I suspect, though, that if he does so, he's going to find that "home" exists only in his mind. It's not Knoxville the place that he yearns to return to, I'll bet; it's Knoxville in 1997 that he wants to experience again, and even if he does relocate there, it won't be the Knoxville he remembers.

I discovered that back in 1992 when Susan and I bought our farmhome in Rome. I was excited about the idea of making a home in Rome once again; I have always had wonderful memories of those formative years in Rome, when it seemed like this town-on-the-edge-of-citihood had everything that one could possibly want from life. The economy was on its way up; the shopping choices grew with every passing year; educational opportunities abounded; the SF and comics fan community seemed to be thriving; neighbors befriended one another in an almost Thornton-Wilderesque manner.

I discovered that the Rome I remembered no longer existed. Don't get me wrong--I loved the seven years that Susan and I spent in Rome in the 1990s, even though we were there only on weekends. But it wasn't the Rome I knew as a child; it was a different place overlaid on some familiar backdrops. I enjoyed what Rome offered, but I missed the things that had made Rome what I had loved. I often measured locations by what used to be there, not by what was there currently.

When our time in Rome came to an end in 1999, I was able to accept that change with no regrets because I knew that the Rome I had loved as a teenager existed just as strongly in my mind as it had before we had bought our second home in 1992--but that's the only place where it existed. I had tried to recapture a bit of my childhood, only to discover that being in the same place had little to do with it... and try as I might, I haven't figured out how to be in the same time as well...

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