Visiting San Diego

The city I once knew
Was strange to me
Though much was the same as I'd left it.
The sky was too wide and bright,
The foliage too brown,
The trees as odd as when I first saw them.
As Jerry drove me through the city,
The very streets and buildings seemed unfamiliar.
Even the area around University Towne Center—
My home for almost five years—
Was different somehow.

In some ways
The people I knew had changed too;
At least, events had changed for them:
Elizabeth a mother,
Yuriko soon to be married,
Sara reeling from a bitter divorce,
Marjorie, her hair whiter than I remembered,
Soon to lose her mother.
Jerry was mostly the same.

It's an old cliché, but life goes on.
Some get carried along the current.
Some are pulled into rapids or over waterfalls.
Some are drowned (though none I've known yet).
Some stay mostly where they've been but
As it's been said,
When you put your foot into a river, it's never the same river,
Even if you're at the same place you were before.
Even my life,
Often pale and lonely and lost to the world,
Finds itself in newer climes,
And I wonder if there's a man alive
Who doesn't feel the same eerie and often vaguely sad feeling
When returning to places long departed
And discovering either
That the places they've known no longer match their memories
That the strangeness has arrived in their hearts
And they've lost a part of themselves.

George Chadderdon © 2002