This isn't the first one of these posts as it seems each time I revisit home, with home being the home I moved out of when I moved out onto my own last October, (wow, it's been that long?!) it seems something major has changed.
Yesterday I made a run by the house to drop something off for my dad and from there I headed to Fortel's in Affton as it had been four months since I had been there. However, on the way, I noticed that places I knew were no more.
It started as I passed Hampton and I noticed that the IHOP on Chippewa was vacant and lifeless. My dad and I went there quite frequently when we had just moved to Saint Louis in 1993. Those moments there were some of the only tranquil moments I had during those school years. Also, by pure chance, each time we went on an international trip we would stop there for breakfast. Okay, I should probably stop giving a total history of the place, but seeing it empty, vacant, and lifeless hurt me to the core.
This all has to do with the associative memory system in that each time I drove by there it was as if those moments were right now and a sense of warmness always followed. To now know that the place is no longer what it was hurts, truly hurts, as there's a chance that, perhaps, the building might be knocked down. What then? What will happen to those memories? I do have a great memory, sometimes too good if you ask me, but it is often reliant on things associated with the memory, such as a place or building, to keep them fresh and current.
I was truly down as I reached the next stop light. I mean, it was like I could feel the memories slowly being erased. Yes, I know the memories are still there, but it was as if there flawed now. One of my ways to describe my memory is that, "everything is now" which means if something in the current then it is hard to fathom that it ever was. With all that being so I thought to myself that what else could be gone from what I knew? Then I saw another empty storefront.
I was speechless as another place tied with so many memories was gone. This place isn't as obvious and wasn't as frequented as much as IHOP, in fact I think I only went there three times, but there to my left was an empty place that used to be my optometrist.
The first time I went there was right before my first SKUSA SuperNats as the flagman. I knew I needed new glasses but I kept putting it off until I needed a reason to be able to see perfectly. The 2nd time I went there was two years later as once again I needed new glasses so that place was associated with my first experience as the flagman at one of, if not the largest go-kart race in the world. Sure, I have plenty of other things tied to that event, but that place was tied to the utter excitement I had for my first one and now, there it was, empty, lifeless, and hollow.
I'm sure this is something everyone that moved away from home, be it 10 miles or 1,000 miles, experiences when they return home. I mean, doesn't everyone have a place from their childhood that is associated with a happy time? Maybe a restaurant, maybe a park, maybe a shopping center that is no longer there? However, for me, anything and everything becomes just as important as anything and everything else.
Moving forward I am almost afraid to go back to that part of town because what else is different? What else has changed? I have my memories, they're intact, and I don't want them to be tarnished. I want to remember the IHOP of old, the one where my dad and I spent many evenings there talking about racing, school, and life. As hard as I try though, right now, the only thing I can see is an empty building with an empty parking lot and no hint of the life, and memories, that once was there.