The End of an Era

dayton

As I pack up the remaining bits of my office, and life, and house, I want to pause for some reflections that have been working themselves out in my head these past many weeks and months. I don’t commit to putting these kinds of thoughts down like I used to, and blogging is a pitiable excuse for journaling (another entry), but it’s still a document. In the minimum, I at least want to say “here… this… now.”

About two autumns ago, while feeling a bit nostalgic, I took a short trip through an old neighborhood, running back over memories of school and friends. I wasn’t surprised by the cascade of thoughts that followed (how I had arrived at my current stage and its companion: “did I get here the right way?”) but I did realize, rather startlingly, that I’d now lived in Dayton, OH longer than I had lived anywhere else my whole life (at the time, 18 years). No glance in the mirror or ginger body ache made me feel quite as aged as that tiny, wincing moment… because I swear I just moved here.

The eventful parade of joy and tears, learning, love, hopes, dreams and visions crystalized in a second and I became the strange figure of a man I wondered about at 16 while slouched in the back seat of my parent’s car: “who will I be in 20 years?” Whoever coined the term ‘bittersweet’ must have been living through a similar moment.

And here I am again, making a mental inventory of the whole mad affair as I get ready to leave it behind for another chapter in a new city. One score of a man’s life, checked, catalogued and filed away—just dramatic and exciting enough to be interesting, just blessed enough by the hand of God to be a witness to His providence.

I look forward to what awaits—new dreams, new hopes—but for now I drift back, considering with amazement what has been this speeding rush of two decades…

Here is a man as a kid, a new student, foolish and proud, ignorant and wise, a ghost of Holden Caulfield in his shadow.

Here he is as an artist—desperate and hopeful, hungry for knowledge, a stumbling tower of ego.

Here he is as a young man, his first true job spinning webs of promise and stagnancy, his first true friends planting stone and steel… his best friend all fur and obstinance.

Here he is at 30, meeting with God, grabbing hold of slippery and unrealistic dreams, still knowing, still believing.

Here he is as a husband, awkward and selfish, the stumbling tower of ego, torn down and rebuilt with new hands.

And all of it within this city, in just about every corner.

We look to another horizon, that will someday arrive with as much quiet surprise as this one has.

But for now, Farewell to you, good friend.

Don’t swallow up our empty space too quickly.

One thought on “The End of an Era”

  1. Very well put. A lot has happened in this town. Although, as significant as those events seem when viewed from their origin, they are quite small in the whole. I often wonder if I’ve gotten where I am in the “right” way, as you asked. So many tiny decisions stacked up and plastered together to make a towering life. And, while it might not seem too stable, it is surprisingly able to bear the weight of the choices yet to be made.

    Know that you will be missed. We’ll do our best to keep your space empty, so that you can return and still feel a part of your city.

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