Highway 550, locally known as Second Line, runs 14 miles from Black Road in the east to Gros Cap in the west. (Gros Cap, is a jutting point on Lake Superior. It’s the southern tip of Goulais Bay, a small inlet on the south-eastern shore.) The western section of the Highway, rings the rock-ridge that borders the flats along the north shore of the Lake.

The white trees, in the above image, are birch and at this time of year, they shimmer in the sunlight.

As I’m driving Highway 550 towards Gros Cap, I’m wondering – are memories different for people who stay in the place they were born than for people who move away?

If you stay, the brain seems to adjusts for the contradiction between memory and current reality. You drive by the location where you experienced your first kiss, but now it’s a dilapidated, graffiti strewn wreck of a school building. The brain seems capable of allowing the memory and present to exist simultaneously. The brain doesn’t let the current reality tarnish or corrupt the memory.

If you leave the place of that first-kiss, then the brain hasn’t worked to balance and ameliorate the memory and the present reality. So, while in Pittsburgh, the first-kiss memory stays in that golden realm of long-ago. However, when I come back to the location of that memory and I see the wreck that is the school-yard, where someone kissed me for the first time, the contradiction between memory and reality is disconcerting. My brain has had no time, no practice to adjust, to ameliorate between the euphoric remembrance and the devastation that is the present location.

For me driving through sections of the West-end, where I spent my preteens and my teenage years is driving in a landscape of ghosts. An area that was full of young kids, full of young families is now an area in transition. My elementary school is wreckage; many houses that I hung out in are boarded up and abandoned; and my aging parents and some of their friends and neighbors, who have stayed in the area, are the last remnants of that long ago.