Not So Long Ago

Blogging is rewarding in sometimes unexpected ways. It can trigger memories that one might otherwise lose in the mist of time.

While I use my blogs to capture ideas and emotions, I also use them to document moments of my life. On a whim, I looked back this morning at my first blog, Musings from Myopia, where I made my very first post on July 21, 2005, a silly essay on geezerhood. A bit more than a year and a month later, I recorded a trip to Missouri and our return to Dallas through Arkansas, including a brief visit to Hot Springs, the first time I had visited a place that would later become home.

Ten years ago yesterday, we spent the day in St. Louis. We had hoped to have lunch at an Ethiopian Restaurant called Red Sea, but it was not open for lunch. Instead, we dined at Saleem’s, enjoying appetizers of hummus, garlic potato dip, baba ghannouj, and fried eggplant smothered in a garlic & tomato salsa. After lunch, we stumbled across Mama’s Coal Pot, where we saw “snoot” on the menu; if we hadn’t already eaten, we would have tried “snoot,” a cooked pig’s face with the skin removed. Later in the day, we went to the top of the arch and took poor-quality photos made worse by the reflections of my camera’s flash against the double-paned glass of the observation area. Thereafter, we wandered The Hill, an Italian neighborhood, where we stopped at Volpi Italian Foods and bought brilliant green vacuum packed olives and a pack of red olives from Italy, along with some sorpressa hot salame, and anchovy-stuffed olives. Later, we wandered over to Shaw’s Coffee, located in an old bank building. I enjoyed an iced coffee as we sat inside a little safe, furnished with a glass-topped table and arm chairs.

The following day, September 2, 2006, we headed back toward Dallas, by way of Little Rock. Our plan had been to visit the Clinton Presidential Library, but it did not open until 1:00 p.m. and we were in no mood to wait several hours for it, so we moved on. We stopped in  Hot Springs, Arkansas for a while. We were surprised that we felt we were in the middle of a huge strip center clogged with heavy traffic. Why the hell would anyone come to see this?  Dinner that evening was at Coy’s Steak House, where people who didn’t seem to care served us bad food. [This morning I searched for information on Coy’s, to learn whether it was still in existence; it burned to the ground on January 15, 2009, the night before racing season got underway at Oaklawn.] After dinner, we tried to find a place to stay in Hot Springs, but everything was full (possibly because it was Labor Day weekend and the Hot Springs Blues Festival was in full swing. So, we moved west. We stayed the night at a Best Western motel on the interstate. We went back to Hot Springs the following day, September 3 (that’s ten years ago tomorrow) and did what I thought only really stupid tourists did: we took a duck boat tour (which, according to what I wrote, was a miserable waste of money). But we did see the part of Hot Springs that people come to see; the bath houses, the historic downtown area, etc. We had lunch at Doe’s on Lake Hamilton. Doe’s, too, is permanently closed.

On another whim, I looked at another of my blogs, Brittle Road, to see what was going on five years ago today. On September 2, 2011 I wrote that I was looking ahead with a sense of panic because, two months hence, I would be unemployed with no income. See, November 1, 2011 was the day I closed my business to take a one-year sabbatical. That one year sabbatical turned into two, then into the acknowledgement that I had no interest in returning to a business I loathed. I slid into retirement unaware I was doing it. Time flies. It really does.

So, there you have it, a trip down memory lane occasioned by looking at one of my blogs to see what was up ten years ago, then at another for a more recent memory. These days, I don’t use my blogs as journals as often as I once did. These trips down memory lane give me reason to think perhaps I should. Maybe I’ll look at another blog, It Matters Deeply, for another memory jog. Or, just maybe, I’ll pull from all of the blogs I’ve published over the years for material for a book. Or, maybe I won’t.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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