Memory Lane Is In The Slums
The morning of Saturday, November 11, 1989, I was doing some extracurricular school stuff, and my parents and brother went biking at the Mariner's Museum. On one of the trails, my father fell off his bike and broke his neck, leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life until he finally escaped it too-many years later. I watched the Berlin Wall tumble on the TV news in the waiting room of the ICU at the hospital next to the museum, and morbidly thought, "When the wall stood, Dad did too."
He spent a few weeks in that hospital getting stabilized before moving to the rehab center at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he spent about a year. (When ex-Superman Christopher Reeve became a quadriplegic a few years later, he went to UVA too. Hearing about Reeve's accident was the first, last and only time I had an emotional reaction to celebrity news.)
Side note to all the "pro-life" fuckwits who insist that assisted suicide should remain illegal no matter what: I sincerely hope you are one day imprisoned in a body as useless and pain-wracked as my father's was. (Even when paralyzed he could still feel pain. Nothing else, though.) If you stick to your "existence uber alles" principles in that instance, then I'll decide your viewpoint is worth respecting. My father wanted to die and had damned good reasons to feel thus, but lacking usable arms made him unable to kill himself and he refused to let anyone else do it for obvious prison-avoidance reasons.
I drove to the Mariner's Museum today, thinking to scratch a masochistic itch to see where the accident happened or at least point to the "No Biking" signs and wax snarkastic about how they should be called the "David Abel Memorial Bans." But the campus of Christopher Newport University, where I snagged a worthless English degree before moving North, has expanded onto the grounds, and for all I know the actual spot has been paved over. The campus itself is now so large I didn't bother going on it, since any buildings I remember are likely gone now anyway.
I'm now out of the region of Virginia where I grew up; I was going to stay in Charlottesville tonight but had no desire to sleep in the shadow of my father's rehab center, so I kept driving until I reached Staunton (which has the double advantage of being someplace I haven't been before, and close to some of the geological-touristy stuff I want to see tomorrow).
Perhaps in another twelve years I'll have the urge to go back and visit the old neighborhood again, but I doubt it. To hell with Virginia. The only good thing I ever did here was make enough money to leave.