I haven't lived here for longer than a summer since I started college in 1999. When I return, I truck along Interstate 81, picturing everything just as I left it fourteen years ago. I drive into town and see the Target and Chipotle and new traffic patterns. It's not as if I've never noticed all of the new but the images of Watertown that remain are those slowly etched into my psyche over eighteen years.
Maybe that's why I prefer to haunt the places that never seem to change, like the lake.
When I stare at the surf, I can imagine myself a child again: camping by the shore, sitting around wood fires, smelling of bug spray with an undertone of coconut, falling asleep to the sounds of the night.
Pictures posed on the steps of a preserved Civil War era house could be recreated with our older bodies, only our selves plainly revealing the passage of time.
The car ride that once felt like hours now reveals itself to be less than 30 minutes.
Soft serve ice cream from that one place along the way remains delicious but the huge cones make me worry in a way they didn't when I was 8.
I don't long to be a child again but, sometimes, I want to bathe in the tide of memory and nothing brings the flood like planting myself in the right geography.