Leaving Nashville, I navigated through Chattanooga, TN down to Rome, Georgia.
I had already visited Rome, New York, the town of my earthly beginning.
Though both towns are small in stature and population, each had its own charm and treasures.
I didn’t plan to go to Rome, New York.
I was on my way to visit my Grandmother en route to a show in Western New York. Instead of taking I-86, I drove I-87, a tollway with few exits. I ended up far North from where I had intended and decided to keep going. I had friends celebrating their wedding in Rochester, and I might have made it on time. On the way there, I noticed signs for Rome.
And I decided to at least pass through this place of my birth.
I hadn’t been there since 1985 or 1986, and I have no memories of it.
Seeing it for the first cognizant time this Summer was a contemplative experience.
I wondered about humans, if we, like salmon, will find our way to the place of our birth.
Salmon reproduce there. I did none of the such.
But, I wondered about the climate, landscape, atmosphere, culture. I wondered if I belonged here.
Though I would have liked to, I did not stay long enough to find out.
Nearly a month later on tour, I arrived in Rome, Georgia. The people were kind, welcoming, and supportive.
I went to the Rome history museum and saw old pianos, guns, medical instruments, photos, maps, and clothing. It was again a reminder of the stories others have lived in the South: inhuman horror juxtaposed with wealthy leisure, struggles and celebrations, abundance and scarcity. I am grateful for the chance to remember and consider.
A restaurant server at the Harvest Moon Cafe told the cook I was from Portland. He came to the table and paraphrased a Portlandia skit about the background of my food. People. And I’m only half way.