Like the title says, I’m back.
I had a good week away. Not quite as relaxing as I’d hoped; my nephew and niece were staying with my folks, and while they’re well-behaved as six- and seven-year-olds go, they’re very high-energy. Still, I chose pretty much the best week of the summer to be in Central and Upstate New York. July was much hotter, of course, but it was also very rainy. And August until this point has been surprisingly cool. Not last week: Eighties in the day for summer fun in the lake, dipping down below Sixty at night for nice, cool, sleeping weather.
A whole series of posts are soon to follow with stories of old stomping grounds visited and old memories re-awakened, but in some ways I think the bittersweet of visiting The Old Hometown can be summed up in a single moment:
In 1982, Camden High School’s varsity football team tied for the championship of the Tri-Valley League. My father was one of the assistant coaches for that team – defense, I believe. Ten years later, when I attended that high school, that trophy still held pride of place in the school’s trophy case. It seemed a relic of a distant past whose glory would never be equaled.
Last week, my father (now a retired superintendent for Camden School District) took me to visit the high school so I could see all the changes that had taken place while I’d been away. (I hated them all, though I admit they were probably all for the better.)
Out of all the big changes, it was a small one that shook me the most: the 1982 trophy was gone. It was then that I realized/remembered three things, in order from least to most gobsmacking:
1) The distant past’s glory had been not only equaled, but surpassed. By people who may not even have been born when I attended Camden High.
2) The Tri-Valley League, as I and the 1982 team had known it, no longer existed. The name remained, but the members were all different. What did that trophy mean anymore?
3) Ten years passed between the “distant past” of the 1982 team and my own high school years. It’s been eighteen years since I graduated Camden High. Of course the things I’d taken for granted and thought to be eternal had changed. How could they not?
It was the kind of revelation I’d gone upstate to have. But it’s not always welcome when it comes.