By Kenneth Justice
By Kenneth Justice
~ In just a couple hours I board an airplane for Boston, MA on what is the latest leg of my Drinking in the Culture Tour, my attempt to break up the monotony of the daily grind by visiting 100 coffee houses all around the Western World meeting with readers, fellow bloggers, and everyone else in-between.
A few weeks ago I was sitting at a coffee shop in Pittsburgh, PA and met a young man who used to live in Chicago, “I’ve lived in a few different places in my life” he explained “And what I’ve noticed from my brief experiences of life in different parts of the country is that there really is no place like home” he said
While there are always exceptions; people are generally proud of where they are from. There is something almost ethereal about the way we view our home city, home state, or home province. We take pride in explaining to people the ins-and-outs of where we grew up; there’s something about the memories we have as children and the nostalgia that sticks with us for life.
I was born in Chicago and my earliest childhood memories all come from various experiences related to the urban neighborhood I remember; catching fireflies with a mason jar, on a small patch of grass in front of our house in the midst of the Chicago urban jungle is one of my earliest and most fond memories that I’ve cherished all these years later.
Memories are an important element of our lives. When we have good memories we tend to move through life with more ease……but when we have bad memories it can end up plaguing us for years. One young woman who I met at coffee recently has terrible memories of her youth, “my father had a lot of problems; drugs, alcohol, abuse. And all I remember from my childhood are awful experiences that often give me nightmares” she said. The young woman isn’t even 25 years old and she’s been divorced twice already and is currently struggling with a number of chemical dependency problems.
With so much of Western Culture being destroyed by boring strip malls and suburban sprawl; the childhood towns and communities that many of us remember are slowly fading away, “There used to be a cool brick building here that used to be one of the coolest coffee shops and next to it was a bar that had live music every weekend” I was told by a guy in Minneapolis two weeks ago, he was pointing to a rather ugly strip mall that now housed a Chipotle, a cell phone store, and a Subway.
Many of us think of yesteryear as ‘the good ole’ days’, and while its most likely that life back-in-the-day wasn’t quite as perfect as we remember it to be; the simple fact of the matter is that those memories from our youth often play a major role in how we view the world today. For me, I remember the cool urban art work and classic architecture of the downtown Chicago neighborhoods, so when I see boring rectangular strip malls replacing so much of the American landscape I feel a light twinge of sadness…..I wonder if the memories of my youth are now all that is left between my childhood and the life I once knew.
This weekend I’ll be in Boston, MA, a city I’ve never been to and I’m excited to be back on the East Coast where so much of the earliest memories of the United States are housed. What will Boston be like? Will the old city streets still harbor ancient memories of colonial America and the adventurous spirit that permeated so much of the New World? Will the people of Boston be as congenial and nice as the people I’ve met in so many of my other travels? Perhaps I’ll be sleeping with homeless people tonight if there is no room for me at the inn.
I never know what to expect each weekend that I travel, but for now I’m happy that I have a cup of coffee to sip before I board the airplane.
Categories: Culture & Society