Sunday, December 6, 2009

Maryland, Day Three

Today's theme was A Walk Down Memory Lane. Actually, it was a drive down memory lane, as I rarely got out of the car (too cold). I started out by going to church at my parents' old ward. When I lived in Eldersburg, we were part of the Hampstead Ward, but sometime after I left they split and got their own building just a mile or two away from my parents' house. I saw a few people that remembered me (old YW pres, old Seminary teacher) and I was lucky enough to remember their names, which is a total bonus for people I haven't seen in 15 years.

Afterwards I met an old high school friend for lunch in Sykesville called E.W. Becks Restaurant & Pub. I found it completely hilarious that this good mormon girl went directly from church to a pub. Boy, say the word 'vacation' and the standards go right out the window, eh? Don't worry, we sat in the restaurant side of it and drank water. But I still find it totally amusing. Oh, and I need to mention that the restaurant wasn't just in Sykesville, it was in "Historic Sykesville." I know the town is old, but when did it go all "historic" on us? When I lived there, Sykesville was the back end of forever, it was even less impressive than Eldersburg, and that's saying something. But now it's got "historic Main Street" and I have to say, it's pretty darn cute. Maybe I'm just a sucker for "historic main streets" - Historic Ellicott City is still one of my very favorite places. Well, good for them for trying to make a buck off of historic-ness.

Lunch was great. We shared a crab dip for an appetizer - she suggested it and I pretty much forced her to order it. After all, Maryland is for Crabs and I was so going to eat something crab-related while here. Fortunately this was mixed with enough cheese and other stuff that I couldn't really tell what the crab flavor was. But that's okay - I ate crab like a true Marylander, and that's all that matters! (Plus, it was quite tasty.) Better than the food was the conversation. It was great to talk to someone I knew so well, albeit a very long time ago. Even though it's been 11 years since we last saw each other, I felt comfortable talking about anything, and that's the mark of a good friend. It was also nice that we didn't just rehash all the stuff we did back in the day - those conversations, while fun, can get old, or just show that you don't have anything in common anymore. Lunch with my friend was one of the highlights of my trip.

I headed back to Eldersburg next and drove past my old house. It's still my parents' house, but it's being rented out, so I couldn't go in or anything. The person living there was in the driveway when I pulled up across the street so I introduced myself and asked if I could take a picture of the outside. He was very friendly and told me how much his kids love the house. I didn't realize that I would have any kind of emotional attachment to a house I haven't been in for nearly ten years, but I did. I wanted to go in and see my bedroom the way it was when I left, like a shrine or one of those bedrooms in a historic home that belonged to someone famous, looking just like it did when Lincoln left for the play or something. Of course, it wasn't like that even when my parents still lived there. My sheets were barely cold before Tim moved into my room, 15 years ago.

What I really want is for time to have stood still and be there waiting for me to come and revisit. I wanted to come to Maryland and have everything be like a life-sized diorama, perfectly preserved in time and available for me to run my memories through. I drove to my old high school and sat in the front parking lot for a few minutes. To my right was the large parking lot where I attempted (and failed) to learn how to drive a stick shift. To the left of the front doors were the windows that I can so clearly remember looking out of, checking to see if my ride was there to pick me up. I sat there and pictured walking down those halls, but all of a sudden I realized that if I had walked inside on a school day, I wouldn't see the kids I left back in 1994. No one in the school would dress the way we did, or wear their hair like we did, or listen to the music we liked. The kids in that school today would look like, well, like today's teenagers. The building's the same but it's not the same on the inside - does that make any sense? I don't know why, but it makes me sad to know I can even though I can go back to the physical building where so many of my memories (both good and bad) were created, I can't ever relive it, because it's not the same anymore. I don't belong there, just like I don't belong in that guy's house. Such a bizarre feeling, to know a place so intimately in my mind and yet be a total stranger at the same time.

I have to say, as contemplative as that last paragraph sounded, I truly enjoyed driving around my old stomping ground. Roads looked familiar to me, but I had no idea where they went. I could point to exactly where the old Dunkin Donuts place was, or tell you which grocery store was in which strip mall, but I couldn't tell you the name of the street I was on. I drove around neighborhoods, trying to decide which house belonged to which friend. It was less remembering the town and more like hearing an echo from 15 years ago. It was faint, but it was there, and I enjoyed chasing down the echoes.

So here are a few pictures from my drive down memory lane.

High's - the convenience store where my dad would buy his " Super Big Burp" drinks - giant 44 oz Diet Cokes. I would always, always love it when my dad drove me to school, because he'd stop here and let me pick out a treat. To this day, I feel better when driving with a full soda next to me. I think gas station food should be its own food group.

This is my alma mater, Liberty High. They've renamed the auditorium after the drama teacher I had in school.
Yes, I know that if you've seen one McDonald's you've seen them all. This particular McDonald's is where I would go after school and get a Quarter Pounder Extra Value Meal for $3.14 after tax. My childrens' birthdates I forget, yet I know how much a cheeseburger, fries, and a soda cost 15 years ago.
Ah, the mall. When we moved there, it was an outdoor shopping center. They added a roof to make it more mall-like and trendy. But to my family, it was always a shopping center with a roof on it. The big anchor store was Kmart and the only bookstore in the whole town was a Little Professor. Even with the "mall," for most big purchases we had to go to what we called a "real mall," like Columbia (ask me to sing the jingle for it some time) or Cranberry Mall in Westminster. Today, the mall is a shell of its former non-glory - no, really, it's just a shell. It's pretty much empty and those front doors are boarded up. The Kmart is still there, though. I heard last week that the movie theater closed too. How, in a growing and seemingly well-off town, does a movie theater go out of business? Is there another one nearby that I don't know about? Bizarre. Apparently I have a lot to say about the mall.
My house! Or, my old house. When did the bushes get so big? Are there windows down there that they are covering? I can't even remember. And were the shutters always green? Why don't I remember this better?
My friend Rachael. She looks exactly like herself, just older.
This one and the one below are Sykesville Middle School. I don't have as many passionate feelings about this school as I did about Liberty. Middle school was such an awkward age, though, I even my subconscious just wants to put it behind me.

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