Last night we poked around Davis a little. It was weird when we got to a park we played in as kids, and the place was WAY smaller than I remember. Everyone says that, but it doesn't change how it feels when you go back.
Some things feel exactly the same. In the park, the trees are bigger and the park is smaller, but you get out of town a little ways into the farmland and, oddly, the trees aren't bigger and seem to be pretty much where I left them.
I'm sitting in the Sacramento spillway. It's so early I can't find coffee, let alone decent breakfast, so I figured I'd go see if there is any remnant of the old bike path that used to be down here. I didn't expect it to be accessible (they have since created a path on the causeway to avoid the floods), but I didn't expect it to be completely GONE.
You expect things to change, for a building to be torn down and replaced, or for your memory to be a little off (was that a huge swimming pool, or was I half my size?) But, it's strange when they simply erase something.
The bike path was something like a five mile long strip of asphalt. It would have had to have been ground up and hauled away, and maybe there are still some bits of it in the middle of the spillway, but I'm thinking the farmer who uses this land probably had it all taken out. Not a bad thing, but a lot of work to remove something that I remember from my childhood.
Even though things have changed, sometimes to the point of being completely unrecognizable (the entire highway between Woodland and Davis has moved over a half mile, for example), there are things that I recognize without seeing. The air smells the same, or at least whiffs of the past waft through every now and then. The hills of the coast range are the same shape, and not covered in Borg like constructs like the valley seems to have.
Then there's that odd turn in the road that I remember, but I don't, or that building that looks like someplace I should know, but I don't. It's a feeling of deep familiarity you get sometimes, but can't place it at all, only instead of random deja-vous, I actually HAVE been here before, but not really here, and not really me.
Mind you, I'm not really one to wallow in nostalgia, but I can't help being hit by those "I remember..." moments. I'm next to the levy where I made out with my girlfriend one night until the cops tapped on the window. I'm sitting on a patch of dirt near where I crashed my bike into another rider. There's just a lot of stuff around...
I suppose if you stay somewhere, the nostalgia doesn't hit you as much because you add new memories over the old ones, and the places that slowly changed are more familiar than the place you once knew. So, this showing up thirty years later is kind of like time travel. You get that disorientation, the sense that "that's not right" and a view from an entirely different seat than the people around you...