Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Back in Huntington, part XXIII

Another year, another visit to my home town. In the old days (circa 1995 or so), I tried to come back every November for an annual visit. The idea was to coincide the trip with good autumn weather and Thanksgiving, one of the better American holidays. Recent years have seen this skewed a bit, with my mom's death two years ago and the sale of our house the following September.

But now that there's no deep family tragedy or real estate sale to deal with, I seem to be getting back on schedule. We arrived in New York City this past Thursday, did two days of quick sightseeing, and are now in The Town Where It All Began For Our Friend Eric for another quickie, an overnight stay.

But now it's different. Huntington is no longer Home with a capital "H". The house is gone, sold to a yuppie couple with a nice car, a dog, and a tandem swing on the front yard (we passed by the place quickly in the rental car this afternoon). Mom's "not with us anymore", sis lives in Manhattan, Dad's on marriage #4 in Massachussetts and nearly all of my friends have moved away. I'm a visitor now, almost a tourist.

Like much of the US and the more developed chunks of Planet Earth, Huntington got rich while I was away. You don't see many wheezy old cars here anymore; everyone seems to be driving shiny new ones like the Tandem Swingers that bought our house. The buildings are clean and well-reconstructed, the streets lined with fresh red brick and nearly free of filth. The Huntington of my childhood was always a little gritty and worn down. Huntington 2005 looks like it won the lottery.

I'm not one of these boring people who moan about how The Old Days Were So Much Better. They weren't. My home town looks more attractive and feels more comfortable than it ever did. But it's funny and a little sad how the two of us have grown apart. Every block has some cutesy store selling little pottery things or frilly stationery or "native American artifacts." When did that start? Out of the hundreds of faces I see on the sidewalks and in the stores, only one or two look familiar. It might as well be Fairbanks, Alaska.

I'm glad I'm here, though. I like being in this place, whether as visitor, resident or conquering alien. In a way I can't explain and don't fully understand, it's good to be back and it feels right. I look forward to stopping in at least once a year, even if it is for just over a single calendar day. Tomorrow we leave again on the next stop of our American tour - back to Manhattan, then the following day (early! Dammit!) to Newark airport for our California flight. I'm looking forward to exploring a coast I've never seen...but I'm happy I could pass some time on the scrap of ground I know best.

1 comment:

b said...

unfortunately i doubt the same will happen in my home "towns" lindenhurst (swindelhurst) and mastic (spastic) ooh yeah, some long island wit.

from a fellow spraguite - belinda