The Hometown Effect


Another night and another bruise.  And a desire to write at 4 AM.

Pictured above is the since-deceased dog of childhood past.  Haunting isn’t it?  Well, I mean, sometimes it is.  For one, he’s gliding on air, that dog.  A beautiful countryside lights his steps.  I love the isolation.  And sometimes the pristine beauty.  But not the people who dot their homes along the highway.

I mentioned earlier I had a fish tank to clean.  It was a 50 gallon African cichlid set up since inherited by my father.  I don’t come home to clean it.  Unless I have to.  Last night was one of those nights.  The fish were imperiled and gasping air.  And I just felt it was overdue.  The only problem was…I felt queasy as soon as I saw the sign “Welcome to Charlotte.”

Driving through downtown isn’t the worst.  Except you see all these things and people that remind you bad things happen here.  Or did.  Or probably still do.  This town swallows you up.  It’s like quicksand.  I was fortunate to have an out.  Not everyone does.  Speeding along on their trucks and returning beer bottles and partying every weekend and working gas stations and grocery.   They are visibly content just by the fact they don’t budge.  I couldn’t sit still.

I remember a lot of angry people, old-fashioned and wrong.  My mom took up alcoholism when she felt she couldn’t leave.  I took up fish keeping.  And you know….that wasn’t necessarily a product of the town.  It got me places.   It gave me purpose.  My mom was also suicidal and severely depressed.  I can only blame the atmosphere.  She makes strides now that she has escaped.

So I don’t like going back.  But I did.  I love my dad, and he loves that place I grew up.  For now.   The tank cleaned up really, really well.  I sometimes get lost looking at places in the house that would have contained tanks and fish not so long ago.  What a trip.  I thought I had it all.  I feel closer now than ever, though.  If I could just convince my dad I can’t spend the night.

The night nearly ended with an ambulance and three cop cars.  Well, it did.  But it was not something we couldn’t have ever expected.  My dad’s girlfriend got delusional and upset when we went shopping.  And evidently wished to cut herself.  Or the disease did.  I sometimes wonder if Huntington’s is a product of what you were born into.  Well, it is.  Genetically she was the less fortunate one.  And my dad barely blinked at the idea of her being whisked away.  If only he weren’t so lonely.  It echoed a time when my own mom bluffed suicide.  And we all couldn’t sit still.


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