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The Little Differences Are Vast

I-440/I-65 7I am going home to Nashville in a few days. Haven't seen Tennessee in 16 months, not since I stopped there on the way from New York to California, two cats in tow.

A generous friend is loaning me his car and he told me where I could find it near 21st Avenue, a well-known Nashville thoroughfare and area I once knew like my own back yard, but when I read "21st Avenue" I couldn't place it, not even a little. I imagined the interstates in the middle of the city, the snare of intersecting freeways that criss-cross the city, and I could vaguely make out the exit sign in my memory. With more tugging on the synapses I could recollect the area in clearer detail, but this should not happen! I lived in that city for 30 years. How when I hear "21st Avenue" could I not forever and always know immediately what that is and means? 

Driving in and of itself will be a novelty. I just made a trip to the DMV to get my driver license renewed since I didn't even get one in New York, only a state-issued I.D. Will I need GPS to get around my own home? Those interstate exchanges can be tricky. 65, 440, 40, 24. I had to Google "interstates in Nashville" just now, and I almost forgot about 24. How do you forget about 24? The long straight shot from Murfreesboro to Clarksville with a stop in Pleasant View along the way?

In a few days all those old things, the home things, the woven into my being things will be all around me again. Rolling hills and winding roads and green, green as far as the eye can see, especially traveling 75 miles per hour on the freeway to Ashland City. Except it's not called a freeway there, it's an interstate. The little differences are vast.

I'm going home this week. I look forward to hearing the crickets at night. 


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I had the same weird thing happen last June in sf. I had to sew the different neighborhoods back together in my mind as I drove. I found myself several times driving aimlessly in one direction until I could remember what to do next. So weird. Even though I grew up in and near sf for 39 years, it somehow feels like a "different" place to me now. Didn't expect to ever feel that. I always thought I'd be a San Franciscan my whole life at least in my heart. Maybe it's just all that lack of sleep from morherhood! Anyway have a good trip! San Francisco obviously loves you to pieces.

I think this happens to most people, and in a disturbingly short period of time. I went back to Ocean Springs, MS, after only a few years and had trouble finding my way around, and at the time it was only a little town of about 20,000 people. Folks there would talk about streets and hangouts that I should have had burned into my very DNA, yet I'd be fairly clueless.

Perhaps it happens to those of us who tend to look ahead rather than being mired in the past? I'm not sure, but that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

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