If you, who read this entry, have read this blog from the beginning, then you know that one of my favorite sources for my story telling, as it were, are my memories. Nostalgia rules and it is not because my life is devoid of actuality. In fact, it is so full that this blog has been unattended for quite some time. It rules because, simply put, it is a true fountain of many vignettes which, in sum total, may someday give my children a vision of what life was for another child growing up in a different place which, while still existing, is now long gone.
Once in a while, reality checks in. Yesterday was one such day for me. One of the longer entries in this compendium of “short stories” dealt with the times I spent, as a child, at my grandfather’s factory. A place where some 50 families (including ours) earned a living, manufacturing a combination of local wines and hard liquors. This place was at the center of our family as a business, and it has been closely guarded in a very special place in my memories. I played there as a small child, then worked there as a young teen, waiting to leave my country (although I did not know it at the time) and these occasions were put into these entries. So, you understand the importance of this place in my early life.
Yesterday, while at the computer, I decided to take a virtual trip to my hometown, using the services of Google Earth. Fantastic gadget that one. You can literally visit the four corners of the earth or, if you adhere to the concept of its roundness, its infinite curves. I did. I traveled to my hometown, and looked at many of the places where I had spent time as a youngster, growing up. Central park was just as I remembered, the statues, city hall –now the government center for a province- and so on. The club where we swam in competitions and spent our summer days. Of course, I looked into my old block and was able to identify, from the skies, the one which was the house where many memories were forged.
Then, as I was pulling away from the area where I lived I noted, off to the left and a few blocks away, a small little caption, signifying there was a picture with it. The caption read: “old rum factory”. My heart skipped a beat, because its location coincided with the place where I remember the family factory to be. With a little trepidation, the picture was brought up. I knew the factory had been closed not long after my leaving the country, but I was not mentally ready for what I saw in the picture; the devastated front was a true shock.
What my memories hold dear as a vibrant old building façade, clean, freshly painted was in utter destructed abandonment. Nothing but emptiness and ghosts of times past.
The letters can still be made out: “Ron San Carlos, Established in 1920”. It was really painful to look at this and understand it was just a very small part of the total destruction which has enveloped my country over these last 50 years or so. The old saying which heads this entry, truly took a life of its own and it brought its meaning home to roost.
Yes, after a while of somber contemplation, I did download the picture. This image helps understand that life does go on, and that those memories which make up our persona can never be destroyed or tarnished. I look at this façade shown in the picture and do not see an old, dilapidated, abandoned building. I see a beautiful old building, freshly painted and hear a place full of noises, people working, laughing and making their own memories. My grandfather’s lifework was in that building and so it will always remain for me. Yes, his physical legacy to the town he loved so much can be seen in other places where better care has been lavished, but that factory was the beginning, and end.
I guess it took something like this to bring me back to the computer and find the time to write again. As always, my commitment is to continue to do so; there are many more life stories put away in my head…
Be Well, Be Back