Savannah Morning News
Dec. 6, 2015
It used to be words, scribbled here, scratched there. That’s how we (or shall I say I?) would remember things. That’s how we would communicate. It worked pretty well, that word thing, until it didn’t, until there were just so many words coming at us – texts, emails, facebook messages, facebook posts, snail mail, reminder flyers, poem-a-day sites, evites – that we just couldn’t keep up, we couldn’t find them, we couldn’t file them (remember filing?).
Now there are photos. On our phone. But will we know what they mean three or four years from now? Will they translate to anything meaningful, assuming we take the time to move them from the phone to some place more permanent? Most are not even dated.
When I returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Eureka Springs, Ar., my former home in the Ozark Mountains, I flashed through the camera roll on my phone. The first one? A photo of a notebook that reads, “Personal internet address and password logbook.”
Ah, yes, that morning in Lucilla’s brightly lit kitchen down from the Crescent Hotel and with Christ of the Ozarks in full view when someone called Elizabeth, Lucilla’s NYC-based daughter, about finding a notebook in front of the post office on Spring Street. Did she know anyone named Beth. Elizabeth’s name and number were in the book.
“Beth,” we shrieked in unison. “How can you put those important numbers in a notebook that screams, ‘IMPORTANT PASSWORD NUMBERS’?”
Beth, nonchalant, shrugged it off. “I wasn’t worried,” she said, placing the retrieved notebook in her purse.
Next photo: my vintage wallet with “Jane” stitched on it, maybe by an earnest Girl Scout working on a badge years ago? Or a prisoner in a crafts class? When I transferred planes in Charlotte, I went to buy a snack, some hummus, before realizing I didn’t have my wallet. I raced back to the gate and told the stewardess. She, bless her heart, went to the plane and retrieved it. Nonchalant? Me? Decidedly not.
Then there’s a shot of some liner notes from a CD. It listed my old pal drummer Alex Hahn’s name on a tune with Don Henly and Mick Jagger (now that’s cool); a book I started reading and need to finish (“The Man Who Made Lists, Love, Death, Madness and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus”), a book I borrowed and finished (“Just Kids”) and a book someone recommended: “The Secret Chord” by Geraldine Brooks.
But that photo of liver sausage and Triscuits?
“She still eats them,” Alex said of his mom, Rae.
The bowl of pine needles?
“I’ve started making a tea out of them,” said John, who lives in the country near plenty of pine trees. “Try it.”
Then there was Becca and me sitting on a concrete bench by one of Eureka’s springs, chitchatting, discussing the future, the present, the past, as we are wont to do.
Then there was La Luna’s, a Salvadorian restaurant in nearby Berryville “with the best puposas on the planet,” says Billy (except it was closed), a sign with the price of gas ($1.84), the sign in Garfield (population: 502), where I mailed a post card, and the sign for Fly Shoes in downtown Eureka, just one of many high-end shops that have hit this formerly sleepy Victorian town.
The rest I will have to remember on my own.
“Meet me on Douglas Street,” Billy texted. “I’m painting a porch.”
“Can you remind me where Douglas Street is,” I ask the librarian at the iconic Carnegie Public Library.
“It’s behind the food bank,” she answers to someone who hasn’t lived there in 25 years.
“You mean where Joyce English and Danny used to live?” I asked. Blank stare. “Near East Mountain that led up to Dick and Jack’s house?” Another blank stare.
Things change. The town, still under 3,000, gets a dog park, a skate park and a transit system. New people move in. Old friends move away. Real estate goes up. Cancer strikes in indiscriminate ways. Children of friends now live in Oakland, Ca., Dallas, New York City, Kalamazoo, Mi., Denver and Cameroon, as in Africa. Memories of people who passed on start to fade away in spite of our best efforts to keep them alive through photos, stories and toasts. But we try anyway.
“To Mannie and Vernon,” Dina said at Thanksgiving, raising a glass of Champagne, son Favio and grandson Isaiah nearby, “who started these gatherings so many years ago. May we always remember and keep them in our hearts.”