I have made up my mind. Tomorrow I will drive to Northwood again. The neighborhood where I grew up. Northwood is an odd place to visit. In some spots, time has stopped, frozen in place for years. In other spots it has lurched forward, reluctantly I would imagine, a stubborn trailer full of memories fighting the car that pulls it.
Here is the way it happens. Here is how time deceives the earth into thinking the old must die to make way for the new. Time makes promises, tempting promises, and then breaks them with the ease of someone who believes in their own lies.
However, in its haste to patch the scarred and replace the decayed, it always leaves a trace behind, fragile monuments to what once were and will never be again.
They become more difficult to find with each passing year, but they do remain. The Northwood woods shrunken and worn, still survives, as does the Northwood Elementary School. But not for long. Plans are in the works to bring it down and build a new facility in the field to its rear. The patio by the school's front doors still remains for now, holding fast. A handicapped ramp splits its center, but the patio remains.
The house I lived in for thirteen years, from five until eighteen, still looks the same for the most part. My memory protects the bricks and paint.
The alleys that surround it, much like the woods, have shrunk, constricted into narrow walkways, no longer suitable for games of handball and tag. The old clothesline pole at the end of my house's backyard near the chain link fence still stands. There were days when I ignored the back gate and swung out on that pole, through the air, over the fence and on to the alley.
The ride through the neighborhood will offer no surprises. Not yet at least. If I waited years maybe, months, no.
What once was nostalgia has become need as I grow older. I need to see how things were once. I need the places I see to match my memories. It's sad when they don't, but not in a bad way. Instead, it's a sadness that come with the passing of time. I sometimes think I'm the trailer of memories being pulled by the car, not knowing where I'll end up and fighting to remain on familiar ground.
Sometimes the years surrender to time, too tired to fight back. Sometimes, however, they hold their ground. Those are the years I'll see when I revisit Northwood tomorrow, the strong sturdy ones filled with enough memories and places of my youth to welcome me home as an old friend might.
And time can wait.