Nothing: Part 4

I met a classmate from school today, after twenty five years. It was wonderful to reminisce about long forgotten people and things.

“There are places I remember…”

That Beatles classic is always a refrain, or background music for me because I do tend to meet a lot of people who have been a part of my life, in minor or major ways, and are back in my life again; albeit to a different degree, but there all the same. It seems I prefer to live my life, or rather, complete this journey with the same fellow passengers in central or peripheral vision.

The friend I met said something about being in the here and now, remaining focused on the present. There is much wisdom in that, I acknowledge that wholeheartedly, not grudgingly. It makes good sense to only worry about the present. But I adore the past just as I would a mantelpiece of memories on display or a collection of objets d’art. Each person I met left me with something, however fleeting or intangible and for that they earn a permanent place in my mental china cabinet, for me to admire at leisure.

It is my way of feeling grounded or tethered to something that was once real in a present existence that feels casual and marked with impermanence.

I marvel at the fact that I have now resided at my current home for eight years. That’s the longest time I’ve ever spent in any one place. When I was a kid we changed homes often until my parents bought a home where they spent many years without me, I was old enough to move out by then.

My daughter has spent eight of her years in this home. The walls and windows, the nooks and crannies of this home will have a permanent place in her recollection. I am amazed when we visit the local stores and playgrounds and she always finds someone to greet, someone who knows her. The cashier at our supermarket recognizes her, and her Dad, and thinks of me as the person who is seldom seen. I am still a stranger, still just a visitor in my own reality. I have never been in a place long enough to know the histories of the local shops and businesses, of restaurants and pubs and greengrocers or butchers and I am never the one who knows how a certain place used to be before it changed into what it appears to be now. I am only always meeting people who say things like:

“I remember when this was a dirt road, now it’s a major highway!”

“Oh remember the movie theater that used to be on Main Street?”

“Oh the block parties we used to have when we lived there!”

“That stream is all dried up now, we used to go inner-tubing there.”

No such recollections for me, it always does end up being about the here and now. So the more hits or markers that get revisited as an adult the cheerier I feel.

Perhaps the present home will be the one I view on Google Earth, or something similar, thirty or forty years from now the way my Mom and Dad, sitting in their living room in Canada, view the ancestral village, their childhood home, the khets, the pokhar, the well, the neighbors, the neighboring village, their village schools…all viewed from satellite and pretty much preserved in time.

And the Beatles will continue to play in the background, of places I remember and people and things and friends…as the here and now ends up a cherished part of the past…

“There are places I remember…”

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