Hometowns

Hometowns.

They mean so much more to us now. Even if not surrounding some physically, these charming little – or, perhaps larger – neighborhood pieces of our lives still hold on to our memories. They must. This is their purpose.

It has been roughly a week since writing an entry on DougHugs. I’ve spent that time scooting about in my hometown … and nearby communities … practicing some necessary life skills for the uber-thousandth time: shopping, driving, paying bills, working, eating food handed to me from over-worked drive-thru food joints, and thinking. Lots of thinking.

Considering my way through the muck of this new reality has been a stuckiness problem. Maybe not for you lately, but for me. I suspect placing the word, “maybe” to be presumptive. There can’t be a human alive right now who doesn’t feel stuck in a goofy world of newness – and not a fresh, new born baby excitement kind of fresh. Each day is becoming that scratchy, skippy, record over and over where even the needle is being felt as a voodoo-ish reminder of yesterday’s sameness each time it jumps off the monotones.

We’re all here. It’s the emotional neighborhood in which we have been forced to isolate and distance from our instincts to gather together.

I didn’t realize this newness until hearing words from a social disease “expert” yesterday. With exception to most of her usual panic-laden blather, I did find one perspective rather interesting. She made an overall comparison of this pandemic to 9-11, Ebola, and Aids with regard to scope, effect, and response. I perked up and listened with both years while setting my popcorn aside.

… And I paraphrase: “This pandemic, unlike all others mentioned, has affected every single person on the planet. Every. Single. One.”

She’s right, y’know? The physical damage inflicted on 9-11 was rebuildable – which has been concretely proven. Three-thousand souls lost is a horrible tragedy for our country and was shared, briefly, by others around the world. Within a few short months, life continued on … for most. The stock market began to roar, folks walked about with less flag waving and patriotic duty, … normal returned as normal did as months rolled into years. The world didn’t stop much. Ebola and Aids were even less a hiccup on our path of normalcy. Yes, to some a major health crisis, a marginal social cry for justice to others.

This pandemic is a very different world experience-experiment. It is one big-old, “What in the hell is going on?” … and the reason our neighborhoods are so important to us right here … right now. The goofy-ness goo that surrounds our sneakers causing our stuck-stuckiness is WHY these little – or big – parts of our lives mean so much to us now. I say “our” due to you feeling it as well. I know you do.

This is Hollidaysburg, PA. My hometown. The overlook picture is Chimney Rocks. I snapped this picture during a quick walking pass-by on Memorial Day after a pleasant little picnic outing. The turkey sub I ate was, eh, so-so. The usual most-excellent places were closed and lack of proper planning landed my unprepared self at the local grocery store for a pre-wrapped hoagie. Meh.

Food aside, the day wasn’t about jamming high sodium lunch meat into my always moving mouth, anyway. Glad I had the hour to stop – in my hometown – to breath. Something this pandemic, ironically enough, doesn’t give us time to do.

This has become a respiratory, infectious virus that has not only taken over the lungs of, sadly, now 100,000 American lives and many others around the world, but also has conquered the consciousness of every single human being on the planet. To the “expert’s” point … she was dead center on target.

My hometown was a welcome relief this past Monday. I’ve seen her hundreds – if not thousands – of times from the inside out. That vista from Chimney Rocks is a popular look-out I used to scurry about as a youngster many, many years ago. It wasn’t developed as a park and slightly more dangerous to navigate in polyester pants and reeboks. But, hey, I survived it. No Samsung cell phone, bills, working, driving, or shopping, … or Covid-19. Just me, my friends, and my hometown.

If you’re not close to your hometown, go to a local park to sit and remember something about where you were growing up … something positive about life. Something fun. A vista or overlook that takes your mind off this stupid virus for a minute or two. Actually living in your hometown? Go somewhere you love … and do the same thing. A bench. A tree. A porch. A park. Somewhere you can be you for a few minutes.

This will always be their purpose. Places to revisit when the world is upside down with issues, pandemics, and “unfamiliars” we simply don’t understand. They have familiarity no other place can offer weary souls and tired eyes.

I speak for me when I say, “This is Hollidaysburg’s purpose in my life. She has problems, but when we are quiet and respect each other …there’s a way through any of life’s challenges.”

Find your hometown again.

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