I spent most of my waking youth in two places: the Canton Avenue pool in North Jackson and the Jackson Yacht Club at the Reservoir. If I wasn’t at one place, I was at the other; there was really not much else in between. And frankly, in those days, there wasn’t much in the space between. I mean, you left the pool, were quickly on the outskirts of town, and after a journey through farmland and empty acres, you were at the yacht club. And it took all of about 20 minutes.
Today, well, that drive is pretty much Ridgeland...and there is a lot more to see along the journey from Parkway Drive to Old Canton Road to Lake Harbour Drive. And it would certainly take a little longer; if only because I’d be tempted to stop and shop and eat. Funny how things appear in the most familiar places...and suddenly everything is different.
Actually, even today I spend most of my waking time in two places: Fondren and Fleet Feet, and the community surrounding...and the familiar and evolving roads in between. As I walk through Fondren each day, I see new people on the porches and sidewalks. As I run around Ridgeland, I am amazed by new porches and full sidewalks. In both places I am struck by discovery, like the sun finding a new angle on an old landscape.
We are all on changing journeys every day. And every day that goes by offers up some new distraction or amazement. There is something giving at every turn. As we move along, it seems every direction is fighting for our attention. If we stop for one moment to consider, we realize every day is packed and every night overlaps with demands for attention, for time and energy. In the strictest sense, every day is a renaissance. And all we really need do is understand that ways change: pathways and mores and segues...everything changes along the way. And it changes us.
A few days ago, I took that journey, from the pool (long since covered) to the yacht club, just to see it, experience it. I tried to imagine the route then, the twist and turns through silent open land, now populated and busy. I tried to reach into a past, simple and clear, along roads that now stopped and started with traffic and lights. I tried to become someone before life as I now know it.
It was hard, to go back, to be there in a place of memory and dream, with much forgotten and some made more. From the familiar, now encroached, pool I embarked on a cold mid-afternoon. Each mile delivered a memory or two, a smile, a fleeting realization of the girl I was then. I was just on a ride north, one that I had made at least a thousand times. As I got closer, in no way miraculous, but subtly, in a most odd and vexing way, I started to anticipate where I was headed, and when I broke through the trees upon the club, the most familiar remain of the old route, I found it as before: the hopeful end, full of promise.
As I said, it wasn’t a moment that changed my life there on the spot; it was a still understanding that my life could change in a moment, all at once, in a serene instant of both familiarity and the unknown. The routes we take to where ever we are going never disappear, they fall one upon the other translucent layers upon layer, until the whole journey, and every step along the way, become as crystal.