If you had the opportunity to write a love letter to your hometown, what would you say? What if you’d changed, and so had the town – and you worried that you might be more in love with it than are some of the people to whom it’s still home?
And, as you wrote that letter, much as if you were writing to an old lover, you feared that, by professing your undying love, you’d turn the lover away forever?
Would you do it anyway?
This week my “Musings on Route 66” blog makes its first appearance on the virtual pages of my hometown newspaper, The Register-Mail. I’m as excited as a little kid about to take her first train ride and as frightened as a teenager about to start her first job. I remember those feelings. I experienced both in ‘The Burg.
One minute I’m thinking, “Oh, this is going to be so much fun!” The next, I’m worrying, “Ah, what if I mess up? What if they don’t like me? What on earth am I getting myself into?”
I left Galesburg, Ill. almost 15 years ago, a few years after completing my long-delayed college degree and shortly after attending my first Sandburg Days Writer’s Workshop.
I moved from that community, where I had to cross both the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad tracks on my daily drive to work in a supermarket, and relocated in a small town where the Illinois Central Railroad, Interstate 55 and Historic Route 66 ran parallel to our backyard.
On the commute to my new career, I drove a quiet, deserted stretch of the Mother Road, which ran between the Interstate and the railroad tracks over which Abraham Lincoln traveled to the White House and his body returned to his final resting place.
As I drove that two-lane, I thought of my new life and community, of the one I left behind, and of the people, places, experiences and history that left their marks on me. It was as if the stories were sitting there in the passenger seat, a huge stack of words – pushing and shoving, jostling for position – saying, “C’mon, Ann. We’re here. It’s up to you to put us on the page.”
My blog was conceived way back then, in 1997, those “musings on Route 66.” If it were a pregnancy, it would have set the record as the world’s longest. Though I’ve written and rewritten many of the stories in my mind or on a computer keyboard, some shared with no one, others with my fellow Toastmasters or nurturing mentors, the blog wasn’t “born” online until this January.
In early February, it ventured onto the virtual pages of Springfield’s The State Journal-Register. Now, it’s also journeying to the place I will always call “home” and to the paper I still read on my computer monitor first thing each day.
Galesburg friends, I’m as happy to welcome you to this blog as I was to see you when you came through my check lane at Giant Foods on East Main Street. You always brightened my day.
I liked you then. I like you now. I’ve missed you.
“Musings on Route 66” is me, throwing those passenger-seat words together on a page, sometimes just thinkin’, other times remembering what it was like to grow up in little towns and a small city in West Central Illinois, a baby boomer in a state with a powerful history and a rich literary legacy.
And, every once in a while, the words of this blog will have minds of their own, as they write love letters to The ‘Burg, for no matter where I reside, it – and you – will have a place in my heart.
Thanks, Galesburg friends, for joining my online and State Journal-Register readers on this literary “road trip.” It’s great to have you along for the ride.
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012