Chapter One: All The Places My Parents Have Ever Visited In Our Town

The High School

Mom (Former homemaker): It never used to have a wheelchair ramp… Of course, there were less handicapped people back then, you see… Not that that’s a good or a bad thing, per se. But, you know, it’s no coincidence, is it?

Dad (Recently retired): No, you’re quite right. At least those blasted skateboarders are breaking their necks on it…

The Patch Of Vacant Land Beside The Train Tracks

Dad: That used to be the delightful little shantytown where the hobos lived! And the hobos today are nothing like the hobos of yesteryear… In my day, they used to do things for you; like shine your shoes, or play the fiddle! Now they just invent elaborate lies about how they’re war veterans, and the government has forgotten about them…

Mom: Yesterday, one of them asked me how much it costs to ride the bus. And I was ashamed to tell him that it’s probably a little more than 10 cents these days…

The Turn-Of-The-Century Department Store

Dad: The town’s richest family used to own that. Now, everyone just goes to Wally-Mart… No one supports local anymore!

Me (Dragged on a “Sunday Drive”): You have like, 17 pairs of pants from Walmart, Dad…

Mom: Where else is he supposed to shop for pants? We live in Millberry Heights now…

The Downtown Core

Mom: It’s a real shame the way your generation has let this place die. Back in the day, it was a vibrant mecca of culture and ideas! Now, all you kids want to live with us old fogeys until you’re 40! Where’s your independent spirit?

Dad: When I was your age, I lived alone above the laundromat on 5th, in a tiny little two-bedroom, and worked part-time at the college radio station. Which, of course, lead to my being offered the job to host my own radio show—which, as you know, I did for a few months until I could afford to buy my first house… At which point I quit the radio station to take over the family business… Which, as you know, I just sold for a modest profit to a foreign buyer…

Me: I know, Dad. I live in your walk-in closet…

Mom: That business could have been yours, kid, if you’d gotten your $50, 000 buy-in ready in time… We gave you six months! Maybe you should have picked up more shifts at work…

Me: I only get 25 hours a week at Walmart, Mom… MOM: You’re full of excuses, kid!

The Bus Shelter On Colonial Dr.

Dad: I remember when this city used to have rapid rail transit! But we sold the trains to make way for the buses… Now you have to wait 45 minutes in the winter for a bus to show up… That can be life-or-death in a place like our mid-western town!

Mom: That bus shelter used to be heated, but homeless people started sleeping there, and it became too dangerous… Thankfully, it’s just a clear-plastic cubicle, now…

The Old Live Music Venue

Mom: That’s where I saw Woody Guthrie play when he came through here back in the day!

Me: Wait, how old are you, again…?

Dad: They just don’t make music like that anymore. This was back when music was actually made by people! It was raw… inspired! Of course, you kids don’t even like to go to small, intimate concerts anymore… These days, it’s either bloated “Rock’n’Roll” showcases, or nothing!

Me: What year were you born, again, Dad…?

Dad: I’m the greatest generation!

Me: Like, ‘The Greatest Generation’, or the greatest generation…?

Mom: And the ticket prices! Maybe your generation should have fought a little harder against Ticketmaster back in the ‘90s… It’s so sad to think that Pearl Jam took them to court, and no one stood beside them… How can you look your hero, Eddie Vedder, in those deep brown eyes, and tell him you did all you could?!

Me: How many years make up a generation, again…?

(Here’s a sneak preview of Chapter Two: All The War-Ravaged Countries My Parents Backpacked Through In ‘The Good Old Days’)

Afghanistan

Dad: (Spinning a dusty old globe that still contains ‘Rhodesia’) Your mother and I used to hike across the border from Kashmir, and stay in the most beautiful little Kath-Kuni up in the Western Himalayas…

Mom: But those damn Ruskies ruined everything! And then your buddy Bush ‘saved the day’ while you stood by and did nothing…

Me: Which Bush?! I’ve never even voted, Mom! I’m a Millennial… Or, wait…?


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