The saying, “You can never go home” has a new meaning for me. I returned to the place I went to grade school Norridgewock, Maine. While visiting New England, I decided to make a trek for the first time in over 30 years to see what if anything had changed in this little burg. I entered the church of my youth and the first thing I noticed was the deacon benches had been replaced with real pews and running water had been added. Welcome to the new century.
While my graying hair let me fit right in with all the other members, no one recognized me. If they did recognize me, the response was always the same. They initiate a shudder and double look as if say, “How did you survive the explosion?” Then they say, “Wow are you getting old.” I ran into an old family friend and introduced myself. He said, “My, your hair is gray.” I said, “Yes, and the last time we saw each other, our hair was both red.”
Nothing snuffs out nostalgia quicker than seeing acquaintances of your youth looking like lead actors in an assisted living center commercial. Or better yet, you look like you can join them.
I ran into a camp counselor buddy who back then was the epitome of a mountain man. He made a birch bark canoe by hand, made a skunk skin cap for his nephew and even way back then would castigate me for using deodorant. He would say rubbing a special river stone under your arms was just as effective as my stick deodorant. He would warn me, “you won’t get early dementia if you do this.” Funny thing, when I saw him for the first time in 32 years, he asked me who I was. So much for the rock theory.
While the trip had it’s pleasant moments, boating on Rangeley Lakes for one, I called this vacation the geriatric tour. Everybody was old except me. My analysis changed my last day. Walking out of our son’s home with our bags, I mis-stepped, twisted my left ankle, hit my right knee hard on the concrete and aggravated my oblique muscle. I arrived home packed in ice, ankle wrapped and a neoprene brace on my back and knee. Geriatric tour indeed.
This week, my reality check bounced. If you need me, I’m going to be at Trembling Hills Convalescent Center playing spin the hot water bottle and musical rockers with all my friends.