I've been out of town for almost a week, but am now back in the land of 10,000 lakes. Here's the deal. Everybody knows how bad the book market is. Most writers I know are either unemployed or have taken a pay cut. I fully expect things to get worse before they get better. I'm already making plans, bracing for an even bigger crash. I'll be putting my house on the market next spring, and moving to cheaper digs. This isn't as pathetic as it sounds. This house was supposed to be temporary - and I've somehow been here five years. New neighbors have built a towering monstrosity next door that has robbed my house of sunlight. My block used to be mostly singles and geezers. The geezers have died off, and the yuppies have moved in. Now I know how the crackheads feel when their neighborhood gets gentrified. Time to pack up your shit and move on....
But I digress. Kinda.
A few months ago, after a book signing in my hometown, I got the bright idea that I should move back there. I could own a Victorian mansion overlooking the Mississippi River for the same monthly payment of a studio apartment in St. Paul. So last week I returned to Iowa to scout out some possible nesting spots. This is where the big WTF moment happened. Visiting for fun and visiting with the idea of living there - two different things. How had I even considered it? Was I insane? And how had it seemed such a perfect solution one minute, a total head trip the next?
As I tried to analyze the dark pull of beautiful dying towns and that kind of nostalgia, I got even more confused. I posted my confusion on a message board - just to get it out there, not expecting a single person to even understand what I was talking about. I couldn't believe how many people responded, telling me they'd almost done the same thing. One guy returned to a ghost town after twenty years, saw his old house for sale, found a real estate agent, and was almost ready to buy it when he came to his senses. Another person moved into the actual apartment where his father had died, but couldn't get a job because the town was dead.
The past is never really the past.
What's the Faulkner quote? The past is never dead. It's not even past.