We read the news the other day that they plan to demolish our old high school. Yes, that very place we invested 5 years of our life. (8th grade was part of high school back in the day). That place where we started figuring out who we were and what we wanted to be amidst the angst of our peer groups and the desires to belong. It was that place of experiencing our first big crushes where one even turned out to be my future husband. I am heartsick on so many levels. It’s like ripping away a part of my past as if it never existed. This building remains a place where the halls echo with the memories and dreams of a multitude of youth on the brink of their futures. Our feelings, mixtures of hope and confidence and fear of the unknown, seeped into the walls themselves and embedded themselves to forever linger. I feel sure those ghosts will remain long after the building is gone. Fellow Barons, I share in your collective pain.
It grieves me that this school is no longer needed and that they just want wipe it away and put something else there like condos or strip malls or office parks…as if we don’t have enough. A travesty!!! It’s not like I even drive by it very often, but just knowing it is out there.. somewhere… is comforting. This is such a symptom of our culture….isn’t it? Our world of today sees fit to replace the old with something newer and better instead of repairing what can still be made good. All in the name of progress?! This mindset bleeds into so many other areas of our life…and it is not good my friends.
A few years back we saw the movie, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. It had an interesting plot twist in that Joel, a character devastated by a relationship gone sour decided to voluntarily undergo a procedure to have memories of his girlfriend erased while he slept. As his memories are being erased, he tries to evade the effects of the procedure by hiding his Clementine memories in remote parts of his subconscious. As we discussed the movie, we discovered that a similar phenomena was involuntarily happening to Steve in a really weird way. Society was erasing the physical reminders of so many memories that are a part of his story.
- The home he grew up in on Merry Lane in Atlanta, although still there, has been renovated beyond recognition.
- The surrounding woods where he played as a child are now overflowing with condos and strip shopping malls.
- Where his elementary school W. D. Thompson once stood, a grocery store now stands.
- The pharmacy around that corner that delivered banana sandwiches and cherry milkshakes when he was sick was long ago swept away by a big name drug store.
- Although the University of Georgia still stands, she has undergone many facelifts in the intervening years to give her a completely different look. All of the old familiar haunts are long gone from his college town of yesteryear.
- His fraternity lost its charter after he left Georgia and they literally wiped the ATO house off the map.
- Stegman Gym at UGA where he started his college career and had a majority of classes as a PE major….gone! The Tate Center usurped that space.
- His college place of employment, George Dean’s Men’s Store….closed its doors forever. Zaxby’s took the primo downtown spot.
- The church where he grew up (and where we were married) is thankfully still there but because of dwindling membership has sold off some of its buildings. It’s only a matter of time.
- Our honeymoon location… Stouffer’s Pine Isle…gone….leveled!
- Our first military housing at RAF Lakenheath…demolished.
- C & S Bank, his first job out of the military, was long ago absorbed into other financial institutions. It has also happened to some other banks he’s worked for.
- A little cabin resort area called Denhaven on Lake Sinclair that we took our young family….now a subdivision.
As the eraser is poised to obliterate Briarcliff High School next, I realized that our lives, Steve’s and mine, intertwined long ago and many on this list have been erased for me as well. Maybe it is happening to all of us. Maybe one day all of the physical reminders of our past will be gone or changed beyond recognition. However, unlike the movie, I don’t want my memories to be erased and I certainly don’t desire a spotless mind. I want mine to be nice and cluttered, thank you very much. And, I don’t need to keep hiding them into remote parts of my subconscious to keep them safe…they can stay right smack in the center! But, good grief, I must say the razing of good ole BHS is an unusually sad one to bite the dust.
Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose ~ Kevin Arnold