Published Apr 13, 2021 by Rick Cundiff
Funny how we look at things, sometimes, and how different our perspectives can be.
Take our little corner of Florida, for example. My wife grew up here, while I came of age in the land of Up North as Floridians call it. It stands to reason that we might have different ideas about the place.
My lovely bride went to school in Gainesville, just up the road from here. She spent her entire adolescence in the city.
That’s been a little while ago. Lots of things have changed since then. For one thing, the University of Florida continues to grow, as does the town. In recent years, a lot of new construction has eclipsed a good number of my bride’s childhood landmarks.
She’s somewhat less than thrilled by those changes. One particular building, a grim modern tower that looms over the street, casting a shadow where a friendly little bike shop once stood, attracts her ire like no other.
The mere sight of that edifice sets her off every time we drive by it. She goes into a rant worthy of an enraged Chihuahua (and often about as loud). That building – and others in the area like it – are ruining her town.
While I sympathize, I look at things a little differently. The fact is, she hasn’t lived in Gainesville in 40 years. It isn’t her town any more. It’s the town of those who live, work and go to school there today.
Here’s the thing: our little city to the south of G’ville isn’t the town of the people who were here 40 years before us either. Our experience is entirely different than theirs. The town has grown, businesses and farms have come and gone.
It’s not even the same town we moved to. Roads have been widened. New commercial corridors have sprung up. Businesses both large and small have opened and closed, failed and succeeded. New apartment complexes sit on what was once pristine farmland. A simple two-lane road is now a six-lane boulevard.
And for the record, my hometown is no different. Much has happened there since I left for good 38 years ago. It’s not the simple place I knew. It’s not my town any more than Gainesville is my wife’s.
I’d be remiss in failing to point out that she vehemently disagrees with my viewpoint. Gainesville will always be her town, and all those darned newcomers are mucking it up.
I get it. None of us want our childhood memories spoiled by modern reality. But the driving force of the universe is constant change. Nothing stays the same. We can long for the old days as seen in snapshots, movies and our memories, but we can’t go back.
Today’s adolescents will someday look back on Gainesville in their time and wonder what happened to the town they knew. Just like my Dad looks back on the little Indiana town he once knew.
And that’s where custom patches come in. You can use them to commemorate what once was. Or to celebrate – or condemn – the modern changes. Which statement you make is entirely up to you.
Just remember the words of writer Thomas Wolfe. You can’t go home again.