The ice cream shop is gone. This is the second thing I notice about how the city has changed since leaving it. Scooters, the homemade ice cream store run by the older couple with all the Euclid Beach Park memorabilia has gone the way of Euclid Beach itself; the space replaced with something newer.
The new paves over the old.
Some places are still there. I make a note to stop at the Arabica coffeehouse and grab a mocha before leaving the area; I have fond memories of sitting in that place and working on backend code for my previous job, back in what could be called “the day.”
Five years is not so long ago, but thinking back on it is like trying grasp hands with someone on the other side of the Grand Canyon.
Much in my life has changed since in those five years. I’ve held three jobs, moved four times. I’ve gotten divorced, become a single parent. One of my daughters has started high school, the other is in middle school. My son has moved from potty training to beating me at board games. I live miles away, literally and figuratively, from this city where my ex-wife any I bought our first home/
Some things collapse. New things are born.
Valet parking abounds here now. The whole place has gone upscale: Erie Street wears the new restaurants and stores well. It feels alive, vibrant. Some high school kids are playing chess while smoking outside The Wild Goose, one of the new bars on the strip. Sandwich boards line the sidewalk advertising wine, beer, smoked oysters, walk-ins welcome. There is barely any parking, which speaks to how well the downtown is doing these days.
It would be easy to use the revitalization of the street as a metaphor for my own inner life, but I resist this: it’s crap. It’s the mind seeking a story, a pattern within change. To bind oneself to a physical place is to try to make time stand still: the delta between reality and memory is read like cards spread on an altar. The trumps are recognizable, but the pattern is invented, and in the end, turns out to be something you already know.
Sometimes, all you can do is find a bar you’ve never seen, step in, and have a beer.
Tonight, I opt for that plan.