I feel a bit better tonight, but today was a struggle. My "digestive inconveniences" (my own term for IBS; like it?) woke me many times last night, and sent me down the hall from my cubicle to a rest room many times today at work. I've had mostly fruit to eat today, which seems to have helped, but the lack of sleep really had me dragging most of the day. So I fully intend to write a quick entry and go the heck to bed, three or four hours earlier than usual. Of course, that's often the plan, but I seldom manage to carry it out.
Of all the journal entries I've written in the past 16 1/2 months, the one that's had a lasting impact, on me and on other people, is one called Seven Ancient Wonders of Manlius, NY. Manlius, of course, is where I lived from 1961 to 1976. The Seven Wonders were my half-mocking, half-appreciative list of local landmarks, circa 1970. Most of the places on that half-forgotten list no longer exist.
I posted that entry on May 6, 2004. It never got any comments, but it's resulted in a number of emails, most recently last week from someone who lived in nearby Fayetteville in 1957. A week ago, someone who still lives there sent me a bunch of digital photos of current Manlius landmarks.
Incidentally, when I Googled for my entry tonight, the first choice listed was Google Maps: 7 Wonders Of, Manlius NY. The idiot-savant nature of search engines never ceases to amaze me.
Manlius was never my favorite place in the world, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Part of this is because of the emails and the photos, and the phone call from Joel yesterday, but those aren't the only reasons. As I was sorting the mail a week ago, I saw for the first time an invitation to the 30th reunion of the Fayetteville-Manlius High School Class of 1975. The event was in June. I finally read the flyer in August. Doesn't matter. I wouldn't have gone, although I've been tempted. I've been telling myself I wouldn't go back there until I lost weight and got the novels published. Silly, huh?
One thing I've deeply regretted as I ransacked boxes and envelopes and albums for photos to upload is that I have so few pictures of this town where I grew up. Many of the ones I do have are damaged. The best of the remaining photos were all taken by my best friend Joel, the one whose father died last week.
The picture to the left is one of my favorites. It doesn't show the Village of Manlius or the Town of Manlius, but then, none of my photos do. Most of the Manlius pictures are of my house, my yard, and a few rooms in my house, with a few pictures of Joel's house and yard thrown in. I've also got pictures of Pratt's Falls (see below) and Snook's Pond, the ruined railroad bridge (see above) and a dog wandering loose in Cherry Manor. None of those places are technically in the village at all.
This particular picture, of course, was my bedroom as it looked in 1971. I recognize everything in it. The cat picture is from a Fritz Hug calendar. I don't remember why I had that American Indian picture, but it probably came from a garage sale. The print of the praying girl had been on my wall since I was four years old in Dewitt, and probably well before that. The board with the word Love! painted on it was part of a hippie costume from Halloween. I painted it in Sue Keeter's garage / art studio. The game under Password was named after Jeanne Dixon, the famous alleged psychic. The game was far less impressive than a Ouija board.
Okay, there have been several memory triggers lately to remind me of Manlius. But my recent near-obsession with the place seems to be a bit more than that.
There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better,
Some have gone, and some remain.
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living--
In my life, I've loved them all.
--In My Life by Lennon & McCartney
Yes, I've been remembering Joel and his brother Michael, Dan Cheney, Gail S., Cindy R., Lori T., Sue and Pam, Brad and Cathy, and even Cindy K., friends, near-friends and a few enemies. But I've also been thinking about Stone Machinery, a factory whose machinery turned out not to be made of stone after all, and whose noon whistle could be heard all the way to my house. I've been remembering Sno Top and Temple's, both of which still exist; and Weber's Department Store and Suburban Park, which don't. I've been trying to remember whether L. Frank Baum lived in nearby Cazenovia or nearby Chittenango. I want to drive once more up and down the long rolling hills near Pratt's Falls, and see autumn leaves that once meant nothing good to me, but are now a curiosity and a rarity for this transplanted Tucsonan. And I really must send off my money for Mr. Farrell's book about New York State place names. He was my social studies teacher in ninth grade, and besides, I'm genuinely interested in the subject.
What's the meaning of all this? Am I getting old and nostalgic? Have I been away from my roots for too long? Why am I reaching for a time and place that no longer exist, and which were mostly painful for me the first time around? Is it simple curiosity, a desire to match old memories to new sights, before the memories degrade any further?
I'm not sure, but I do know this: I really must get back there one of these years.
But only to visit. I'm not nearly ready to go back to living with lake effect snow and 87 sunny days a year.
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