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One of the cliches you hear when you are young and fully understand only when you are older is, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
I recently returned to my hometown in Ontario, Canada. You know, the land of the loonie, toonie and “eh.”
I haven’t lived there since 1979, but aside from a few new buildings, a few torn down ones and everything in the metric system — you buy gas there by the liter, not the gallon; it was $1.31.9 a liter when I left, about $4.52 a gallon — not much has changed.
I guess most people who return to where they grew up share what I felt during my six days back: It’s a nice place to visit for a few days and was a pretty decent place to grow up, but living there again is never going to happen.
I made a point to spend time looking at the three homes I lived in prior to leaving and to stop by 337 McLean Ave., where my grandparents lived and where as a child I always found calm among chaos.
At one of the homes, I can still remember where my bedroom was and the way the house was designed. Living room to the right, stairs to the left and through the front doors and down the hall to the kitchen, a turn in the kitchen to the left and that’s where the basement door was.
At my late grandparents’ home, plenty has changed. The garage with a dirt floor doesn’t exist anymore, torn down over time. Neither does the garden my grandfather walked and took great pride in. I can still see him feebly walking with his cane and hat on to check his tomatoes and green peppers.
Between the smell in the garden, his pipe smoke and the lingering scent of my grandmother’s Italian food, this home has left me with a memory of some wonderful times in a small space.
The downtown area looks the same; the business names merely have changed over time.
The hot spot in town remains, and I guess always will, wherever you can find a Tim Horton’s coffee and doughnut store. In this city of 44,000, there probably are a dozen stores.
Canadians love their coffee and doughnuts, eh.
The hill by the old — and now demolished — paper mill doesn’t seem nearly as steep today as it did when I was 16 and driving my bike up it after two hours of baseball practice.
The streets where I once walked are the same. They just seem shorter now.
The smell has changed slightly, now that the paper mill is gone. You had to have been there to fully appreciate how bad a smell can come from one area every single day.
I love living in Elizabethtown. Really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But returning home is OK, too, for a few days. Then I get bored, as my wife will tell you, because it no longer truly is home.
It is a nice place to visit — if only for a few days — to see time doesn’t change everything.
Jeff D’Alessio is News Editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be
reached at 270-505-1757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.