“Home” is a relative concept for me.
I’m approaching the half-century point on the birthday clock, and I believe that my current house (since 1999) is the 26th one in which I’ve lived, for a life-time average of more than one move every other year. Even by military brat and military grown-up standards, that’s a lot.
Some folks might put on the po’ po’ pitiful face and feel sorry for themselves for their lack of roots after such a peripatetic life history, but I tend to see things from the opposite perspective: I put roots down quick, and I feel a sense of belonging to a lot of places, rather than just a single spot.
In the past month, I’ve made return pilgrimages to two of the most formative of those places where I feel that I belong: Mitchel Field on Long Island (where I lived with my family from 1976 to 1980) and Albemarle, North Carolina (where my father grew up, and where I visited my grandparents regularly during my pre-college days).
I took my camera with me for both trips, both to record things that were meaningful to me, but also to capture the ways that these small communities have changed over the years, for better or (more often) for worse.
If you knew me while we lived in one of these places, then perhaps you’ll appreciate the photos as stimuli for walks down your own memory lanes.
But if you didn’t know me in those places, then here’s hoping that these photos still provide a peek into two small pieces of our country that have seen better days, like so many others, here, there, everywhere.
Maybe by contemplating the stories that these photos tell, we’ll realize how much we lost as a nation when we collectively traded in the charms of such distinctive communities for the consistent convenience that Wal-Mart, Target and other character-killing franchises bring . . . so click on the photos below to see what is now, and to recall what once was . . .