I lived in a northern suburb of Chicago, from my earliest memory to a bit past high school—somewhere around the late 1960s. I know the lake, the weather, the trees shuffling off their summer coats to bear their flesh for winter. But time changes things in ways you do not suspect.
This past week I visited, along with many surviving members of my family to celebrate the induction of a long past relative into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. I spent several days touring familiar places in the city and walking through old haunts where I spent my youth. Walking and watching was filled with a feeling of unreality for me. Everything so familiar, initials still in sidewalk cement, trees still leaning down to assist a more limber boy to climb, and yet, at the same time it was completely alien, UNfamiliar, looking askance at this old man with differing eyes.
Partly it is because things have changed, buildings, storefronts are not quite what I remember, computers and their ways of communicating were not quite so ubiquitous, but more because the people, their ways of greeting, passing, their energy, are so distant from me now. I have changed. While it may be familiar, it is uncomfortable. I do not mean the people I know, who smile and converse and share humor, but the people who surround me. Who are they? Who am I? Strange.