I’ve mentioned a few times this visit to Cartersville is the first in many years.
A clarification if you will.
Having been born in one state and raised in seven, you do not tend to have the feeling of a bonding to a place to call “Home” like so many do, or at least that is my experience.
“Home” is where you hung your hat that year.
For me I typically call Georgia in itself my home state. Namely because I have lived there longer than I have lived anywhere else.
I lived in Taylorsville for a time in the 80’s. When my parents divorced I lived in Euharlee, then Acworth. My grandparents, as are the majority of my fathers family, hail from the Ellijay area, a small town called Big Creek. As I lived there a number of years and bear the family name, I too call it my home town.
I graduated High School in Cartersville, Suma Cum Lost. As I mentioned to another former classmate over the weekend who remarked I had fell off the face of the planet, I had felt trapped. I felt I was defined by those around as a specific entity, a design, a die, that was not meant to be changed but should be consistent with their expectations and not to be altered in any way.
I have never been one for adaptation or to run with the latest fad, to say the least. I left to seek my fame, fortune, the world, and what ever else would be destined to come, or not come, my way.
George Moore once said that a man travels the world over to seek what he wants, and then returns home to find it. I’m not sure I agree. I, for one, am still searching.
I have returned to Ellijay several times to see my father, or for funerals.
I have passed through Cartersville, but usually stay barely long enough for a cup of coffee, and saw little as the hours were usually late. A quick meeting at a Waffle House, between myself and Calimus, or at his home.
This past weekend, I lingered. I drug my feet. I perused. I wandered, and I wept.
For those who live in a single place, change is spoon fed to them. A little at a time, a building here, a center there a road moved yonder. It’s acceptable because it’s gradual.
For someone like me it’s like being force fed from a five gallon bucket.
So many large things have changed as I mentioned in my previous posting.
But the little things are what have always managed to me. The picture on the left is the old path to the train trestle over Allatoona Lake from the Emerson side.
From here, as teenagers we would dare death, danger, and challenge over 300 tons of rolling steel, by climbing out in to the middle of the lake on the trestle, and jump in to the lake below before the train arrived.
On other occasions we would bring our dates for the evening, and sit under the trestle on the bank. At night, you can see the lights of 4 different marina’s reflecting off the water in multiple colors. If a full moon it makes a wonderful glass lake. And of course in a mad dash of romanticism, cuddle tighter with the one you arrived with as the train roared a mere 3 feet over your head.
The original path we used is overgrown, and unapproachable now. The picture above is the nearest place one can gain access now, an easy 500 meter jaunt to the lake side. I wandered down the tracks, but the bank has grown wild from lack of use. The images are lost only to my, and those who also came to the locations memories now.
The Tomb of the Unknown Solider I am glad to see is still cared for, even if not well.
When I worked at Allatoona Landing, an older southern belle, every Sunday on her way home from church, would lay carnations on the grave before going home.
She never spoke to anyone. Never waved to us or even acknowledged that we saw her. But I thought the fact both touching and intriguing. By the lack of flowers, I must assume she has joined that soldier at Fiddlers Green. I wonder if she took him carnations when she left.
The roads are all asunder now. Not helped by the current predicament of the lake.
The area has received much rain, and many of the places I used to venture are under water. Like the site of the Infamous Anti-Prom Parties Calimus and I held each year. A all night affair on the lake bank, by a bonfire. Tents, and beer, girls and guys alike as we swam in the moon light till dawn.
The camp site, is too developed to arrive at anymore.
But the affects of the lake are obvious at current.
Some things have not changed however.
The bottle on your left is a bottle of Evan Williams, 10 year old, 1783 Label Bourbon.
Evan Williams is also one of the oldest distilleries in the country.
It has a light caramel taste to it, and is light on the tongue.
It is not an expensive bourbon, however for the price it is an extremely good one.
This particular bottle was sold in September of 1998, as you can see from the bottle plate.
That was the year I left Georgia, and volunteered from the United States Army Reserve to the Active Duty US Army.
Each trip home I have a small glass of this bourbon.
Foolish yes. But I admitted to that already.
The bottle resides in a place of *cough cough* honor in Calimus’s house and awaits my return each time.
The running joke is, the day I move back, either to live or to be buried, the bottle will be drank empty.
Either by me, or by him.
Monday was hard.
I spoke to many before I left.
Saw several on Sunday.
It was good to see who I did again. I didn’t feel as if I was in a cage this time. Maybe I’m just older. Or maybe I’ve seen so much black top, white lines, and cities that I’m numb to it. The change in the town is what got me the most. My friends didn’t recognize me, but then I didn’t recognize them. Thats part of the beauty of a reunion I suppose. The mystique. A grounding affect to remind you that we are all human, and not from a Xerox unit in a back office somewhere.
However sometimes in life, a action we take just seems right, everything clicks, like a sound track to a movie, everything just falls in to place.
In this case, it was me leaving.
I may not return here for another 15 years. I may not return at all. My industry is the most dangerous job in America so anything is possible. I will try. I have been reconnected, as it were, with a handful of what were names and 18 year old faces, are now names with 30 plus year old faces. The smiles are the same, the laughs just as sincere.
But I think I know now, as I knew then, and as I knew each time we moved when I was a kid.
I’m not really from here, But I did enjoy my time while I was here.
Might look good on a Hallmark card, if the dead could send them, don’t you think?
I climb in to my truck, and pull out on to Highway 41. I turn on my radio.
Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath the deep blue skies
didn’t have a care in the world…
My cowboy hat firmly on my head, as I point my truck towards the black top. I’m heading East momentarily, but I’ll be headed west again.
Who knows how long this will last
And now we’ve come so far so fast
But somewhere back there in the dust
that same small towns in each of us…
But It’s still a sunset I’m riding in to, as all good cowboys do.