Wednesday, January 14, 2009

to love a place

That picture was snapped at the last minute. It was taken with a cup of coffee in one hand and a camera in the other. It was early winter of 2004, and I was still coming down from what may have been the best summer of my life. I felt good, really good. I was leaving the cafe and something about that moment made everything in my mind line up correctly. So I grabbed my Kodak and took a quick snapshot for the nostalgia I was already feeling before the shutter blinked. Which is a horrible way to describe a smile, and an intense sense of comfort. But that little mini coop parked along a secret street, quietly hidden beside a mountain in a small town... Well, it did that to me. Years later it still does and it's all I can think about tonight. The place is Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. It is my favorite place in the world.

You know you're in love (with anything really) when the best pieces of unrelated events or things remind you of said love. For example, when I was splashing my chacos through the clear water of Abram's Falls in the Smokies - the beauty instantly took me back to Glen Onoko Falls in Jim Thorpe. New memories are swallowed and made into poems for old places. Maybe that's sad? I'm not sure I know enough about these feelings to make a proper judgement, but tonight, at 26, that sounds okay to me. I'll take it.

Regardless, this happens because the switchboards in our brains have programmed themselves to absorb the emotions we need, and feed the ones we crave. Which may be a really shallow formula love, but there you have it. All I know is in all the years I've lived all over America — my happiest moments made me pause and think of Jim Thorpe. Made me think of victorian houses, brick buildings, narrow streets and Halloween. Made me think of churches turned into art museums, stone-walled galleries, statues of stags, and a train station that still steams up the mountain every day. Those instances of bliss in far away places made me remember a different town's past of burning hotels, ghostly handprints in jail cells, and so many amazing drives rolling down the mountain into that town. Listen, if you live close to Jim Thorpe in October, you must experience this. Make sure you drive in during peak folliage. The sound and color will make you shake if there's anything in you that resembles an decent animal's soul. I'm telling you with the right music and the windows down in certain instances you can make transportation actually take you someplace.

Okay, enough of this. Goodnight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would throw in some Railroad Earth for this drive. Have you heard of them? They're playing Rev Hall in Troy, NY this weekend.

January 15, 2009 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Shaun said...

Yes, I second Railroad Earth! Absolutely great band.

I think I will be at that Rev Hall show!

January 15, 2009 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Darx said...

One of the best days I ever spent was biking a trail on the Lehigh Valley Gorge, which I think is quite near to Jim Thorpe, because I seem to remember we also went there that day? A fuzzy but happy memory.

January 16, 2009 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago, I was very amused by the sign on the high that says "Jim Thorpe, use exist 34". Next time I drove that way, I had my friend in the passenger seat get a photo. It's still one of my favorite road signs. It's as if they put up instructions for one individual, Jim Thorpe, that he take that exit.

January 16, 2009 at 12:44 PM  

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