The old Roundhouse: the Railroad started this town. Now, a place to park and drink beer.
My High School Workplace: now a liquor store.
Once the livlihood of the County, now for lease. $.99/ sq. foot.
Maybe I am thinking about this today, because my Mother and my infant Sister (along with countless generations) are both buried there. Maybe because it's Mother's Day. Maybe because I'm a bit disjointed at the moment.
I don't have a single living relative left there.
My friend Tobie, who I have known off and on since elementary school, who was a near witness to the loss of my virginity to a boy who called me "Cindy", who's mother offered to buy me a car once, and who I loved and fought in my senior year for some long forgotten reason, went to Bruceton last night. I mark this, because, most people do not believe the awful teenyness of Hollow Rock/Bruceton, it's poverty, it's small mindedness, it's prejudice. It's the place that I consider myself to be "from."
We have a love/hate relationship.
Tobie, like myself, has left. Tobie, unlike myself, now lives in St. Petersburg, Fl. And loverly loverly, I can get a flight to visit her out of Knoxville for $19 bucks. Soon. But that's another story.
I have, at times, missed Bruceton/Hollow Rock. There was a small group of people there who loved Heather and I; they tried to care for us when we had a Mother who could not. But the nostalgia was misplaced. I think what I really missed was the friends that I left there.
I ran off and joined the Navy when I was eighteen. Excepting a small stint to finish college, I never went back. Not really.
I am reminded that my High School workplace, the Blue Dip, is now a liquor store. It is unknown to me how this particular town legalized liquor in a dry county. I started there when I was fourteen. I made $3.10/hr.
I am told that methampetamine is so rampant that methodone is a common "treatment." The census says that the per capita income is $14,119.00.
The town is bankrupt.
I am told that the two traffic lights, in place to safely shuttle the Henry I. Seigel Co. traffic, are now just hanging... no lights flash. The factory, where the majority of the town worked, has moved to Mexico, leaving a huge water treatment facility for the citizenry to pay for. Elderly people cannot afford to flush too often. Someone needs to start a rain/graywater harvesting system there. Seriously.
I am alerted to the fact that a boy, who kissed all us girls, myself included, who had never read a book and who married his high school sweetheart, is now some sort of teacher there and also the head football coach.
I know, that most of my friends who stayed, finished college, sometimes even got graduate degrees, now work in factories. Jobs are sparse. Eyebrows do not raise about driving fifty miles to work.
My cousin, who lives in Jackson, updates me as to who is sleeping with who. Who is strung out. Who has changed churches.
Gossip that I am not a part of. Thankfully.
Sometimes, I believe that I should go back. Help people. Court industry. Growth. And then I remember, I never really fit in. I certainly wouldn't now.
I asked Tobie last night, should we not make a documentary of Bruceton? Of teeny town life and survival? She replied, "Honestly, is it interesting enough?" Feeling like an outsider to it, I now think it is. Because most people don't know that life exists. Even I sometimes forget.