Clinging To A Past That Doesn’t Let You Choose

by Susan Pogorzelski on February 9, 2010 · 16 comments

Remember the good times that we had?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories…

Sarah McLachlan, “I Will Remember You”

The landscape of my life is changing. I know it was bound to happen, as time changes and small towns grow more populated, as neighbors move away and new families take their place, as strangers shout hello and old friends whisper goodbye…

The red barn that I used to pass every day on my way home is being torn down. Up the road, the hotel where my grandparents had their fiftieth anniversary party is being razed to make room for a gas ‘n go. It’s a crappy hotel, and the only memory I really have of the party are old people I never knew in fancy dresses who wore layers of makeup and smelled strongly of perfume. But the memory is there, locked behind four walls, mingling with others’ reminiscence.

Fields of corn are bulldozed for new residences, and soon I’ll think they have always been there, like that neighborhood on the corner. Businesses change their signs from therapist office to law office to library. I don’t even recognize my high school anymore, having undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade since I graduated. A few days ago, I took a shortcut home from the pizza shop that is still there, still going strong, driving past the school in order to connect to another road. But the road I used to drive down is now just earth, covered by another playing field, devoid of any sign that anyone had ever been down that path before.

We grow up and everything changes. Or maybe we change and everything else just tries to keep up.

Someday, I won’t recognize this town, though it will always be my home. Someday, I’ll say, “we had a fort there in those woods and picked the daffodils that grew among the fallen logs and moss. And look, see, that church lawn was where we had neighborhood picnics and Easter egg hunts and planned performances beneath the willow trees.”

Someday I’ll say, “that was my home — where my brothers and I fought and played and chased each other with water guns; where we once played basketball into the late summer night, the open garage door spilling light onto the surface of the driveway; where we crowded in the kitchen at five o’clock dinner time — sneaking treats to the dogs at our feet.

There are memories stored in places, moments frozen in time and marked by the structures that housed our dreams, our laughter, our tears, and ourselves. And while someday I know I’ll love another place, while someday there will be another home, there are these moments and memories I’ll always return to.

Because while a landscape may change, while we may change, there are some things that will always remain the same.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Positively Present February 9, 2010

Beautifully written post!


Susan Pogorzelski February 16, 2010

Thanks, Dani! And a huge congratulations on your blogging anniversary! It’s amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come, even if everything does seem to change in a heartbeat. 🙂


beckywoodh February 9, 2010

I’m so guilty for saying, “This used to ALL be farmland when I was growing up!” And I never drive by my childhood home without turning my head to sneak a peek. It’s true – the memories never leave me. Actually, they continue to teach me.


Susan Pogorzelski February 16, 2010

It used to all be farmland. Indeed. And that thought makes me kind of sad. Becky, I love your last line — about how memories can teach you, how you can grow with them, not out of them. As someone who is constantly reflecting and looking back (and feeling guilty for doing so), this is such a beautiful thought.


Sam Karol February 10, 2010

Love this! So poignant and a beautiful reflection of the impact a place can have on a person.


Susan Pogorzelski February 16, 2010

Thanks, Sam! I think what’s fascinating is the whole idea of nature vs. nurture. Does a place matter? I think it absolutely does. Maybe that’s the cause for nostalgia — because these memories, things, places have helped build who you are…Thanks for the comment!


Lindsey February 11, 2010

EXCELLENT post! Seems like you and I have a lot in common! I went through these exact same feelings. As you keep evolving your landscape doesn’t change, at least not at the same pace you are. Rather than try to rephrase my thoughts, see the similarities in our feelings!

I think we’re twins 🙂


Susan Pogorzelski February 16, 2010

Lindsey: I’m really beginning to think we are 😉 And I really think I’d like to live vicariously through you for awhile, yes please!

You wrote a great post, and I think it’s so true…A landscape may slowly change, but I think the reason for why it’s so difficult to sometimes accept that is the fact that you have changed as well. You’re not the same person as you were way back when and you never are going to be. What change has done is made way for something better…Interesting.

Love the thoughts you’ve provoked; thanks for being here and I’m so glad to be in touch.


Tania February 11, 2010

This was really so beautifully written and moving. Thanks. It is nice to read stuff like this- I moved from place to place for most of my childhood, so I haven’t had a lot of what you are describing here- but it is a beautiful sentiment, and a wonderful memory to have!


Susan Pogorzelski February 16, 2010

Tania — thanks so much! I would love to hear about this idea from your perspective, especially in terms of nostalgia and memory. Do you have a fondness for each place you’ve lived? Or, rather, how do you keep from becoming so attached, as I have undoubtedly become? I sometimes long for the time of my memories…I wonder if that’s something that everyone goes through as things change, as we get older…

So many thoughts, Tania, thanks for sharing a bit of your story 🙂


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