I grew up in what used to be a small town lying in the shadow of Manhattan. It was pig farms and blue-collar before it became a commuter's heaven of train stations and bus stops. The slaughter houses and most of the people that shared that history are gone. If you didn't work in pigs and the industry that grew up around them then you worked in the "embroidery capital of the world" sewing or working the machines. The trucking industry revolved around these businesses until they disappeared and then the truckers dealt in other freight to pay the bills. The children of these hard workers still populate the town but they too are slowly dwindling. We know who each of us are and we shake our heads as more and more of us move away. The tide of unrooted commuters and immigrants looking for the American dream and not confined by the Hudson River are crashing against the remnants of a small town in the meadows.
I used to know everyone's name, on my block, in the schoolyard, in politics, in town sports, in my life. Those times have changed, alot of the names have changed, but I hold onto the history. It built me. You need to remember from where you came in order to know where it is you need to be. I played in the "big city" with the PATH train only a skip away. The tunnels led to a whole other world of food, sights, smells, and experiences. I lived in the meadowlands, a mysterious wasteland where gangsters went to die. And I vacationed in the Poconos, the remote outback of Pennsylvania that has grown, along with my hometown, from wooded trails and bed &breakfasts to booming outlets and sprawling lake communities filled with NYC retirees.
The gravel road has led into the mountains but began at the mouth of a tunnel. It started right outside Metropolis and it winds it's way to the horizon. It does not end, but it doesn't really have to. For it is the roadside attractions that make up a lifetime of memories. And, in case you forget, you can always follow the road back to the beginning but the scenery may not be the same. The shadows that used to fall across my home were of two sky-scraping giants but they fell years ago and left nothing but a hole in the ground. The shadow of that hole may be bigger than the one from those two towers. To dwell in that shadow would only lead to withering. The sun needs to feed a soul and the gravel road beckons away.