Whenever I return home, I make a point of visiting the skate park.
Jerry broke his neck there in ’98, trying to jump over a bench. No helmet.
The funny thing is, he wasn’t even on a skateboard, he just tried to jump over the thing and tripped. And to this day you can still see his spectral form, aimlessly wandering the park. I give him a wave as I pass, though I don’t know if he can see me. I like to think he can, though he never acknowledges me.
I also stop in at the Rose & Crown, where Don was hit by a drunk driver, minimum once. He’s there, at his favorite booth, nursing an eternal pint, though nobody who didn’t know him can see. I’ll sit with him for a quick one if time permits. It seems the least I can do to honor his memory, although for obvious reasons we don’t speak. People would think I was a crazy person if we did, from their point of view it’d look like I was talking to myself.
Anne still sits on her bench in the hanging garden. It’s not where the accident took place but it’s a place that she loved in life, so I guess she found her way there afterward. And I can’t blame her, it’s a lovely place to visit, and I’m glad she can make good use of the bench we had dedicated to her. Makes the gesture feel a little more worthwhile.
I don’t sit with her, though. I can’t bring myself to. Even after all these years the memory is too raw. Still, I walk through the garden and venture near enough to at least catch a glimpse of her.
I don’t revisit my hometown as often as I’d like, work and family make that harder and harder as the years go by, and the farther I get from that part of my life, the less reason I have to go back. I suppose that’s true for us all. You can’t go home again, and what not. It’s not the same place, or more often you aren’t the same you. It all just feels too different, alien…
…nevertheless, now and again I do make it back, and whenever I do I make a point of visiting old friends, at all the old haunts.