By Jacob Hatcher
We southerners peddle in nostalgia. We revel in reliving the past. Some may think it’s foolish, but we can no more change our affinity for looking back than we can change our need to have breath in our lungs or sugar in our tea. William Faulkner once said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past”, and I think he’s right. The past is always lurking there in the shadows like a ghost, reminding you of the person you once were and how you became the person you are now.
I was reminded of that this weekend when my family and I traveled to my childhood home for Thanksgiving. We pulled off of the interstate and sat at a redlight in front of the store that started my now twenty year career. We drove by the lot that once housed my horse; the barn is gone and the grass has grown up through the sand that once was the floor of the round pen, but the memories are still there.
As the final preparation for the food was coming to a close, I took my children to an empty lot that stands high above the Cumberland River. I peered through the brush and for a split second I could have sworn I saw a younger me playing war games with my neighborhood friends. After we had eaten, we went for a walk down the street where so many miles had been ridden on bikes and so many footballs had been caught.
We wandered through the town that I thought I would always call home and I told of the Christmas tree lot that once stood where the dentist office now stands. We got coffee at the cafe where there were nothing but trees and forest when I was a boy.
We made our way around these old haunts and it occurred to me that maybe the past isn’t a ghost; maybe I’m the ghost, wandering the halls unseen and unheard by those that now call this place home.