Boo Looks At Stacey's Belly
I'm just using the fact that the blog mentions Boo as an excuse to show one of my favorite pics of her. She's regarding Maddy in there.

This weekend I said two goodbyes. They weren’t to people, but to places.

Both played pivotal roles in shaping who I was and who I am, and I think I’m going to miss them a little more than I like to let on.

The first was Ballston (if you don’t live in the DC Metro area, Ballston is a section of Arlington, Virginia), when after a month of being reunited with that special place, I had to say goodbye again. The next was Olney (in the once-great State of Maryland), the town of my earliest memories. While I may have reason to visit one or both for some random reason again in the future, this weekend was the final, practical farewell for both.

Ballston and Olney are tied to some of my most significant moments in this life, and to say farewell is a little overwhelming.

I said farewell to Ballston some time ago. See, it was where Agent Bun lived when I met her, fell for her and promised to trust her enough to watch my cat Boo. She might insist Boo was “our” cat, but Boo was always my special little fuzzy princess. I still miss her. But the point is, I let Bun kidnap her and soon after I was to follow.

We had some good times there. We were young(er than we are now), we were learning each other and we had our future ahead of us. I remember those times as joyful for the most part, and they led to two adorable daughters, so something was irrevocably right about them.

I was still in my twenties then, though at the tail end of them, and just starting to define who I really am. When I went back for my new gig, and got hired, it felt like I’d come home after a very long trip. Like a time warp, I was able to walk streets that made me feel younger. That was pretty cool. Is the area different? Sure. But not enough to make it strange.

And now I say goodbye, just when I’d found its rhythm again. Kind of a bummer, like losing a connection to an old friend you’d just found once more (the former me).

Goodbye, old friend.

Then There’s Olney

Olney is my hometown. I may have been born in Silver Spring, but Olney is where I was from age 5 to 12. I lived there when it was a dusty nowhere, small town stores that closed on Sundays and playing in the park until you were forced to come back home.

Olney is where so many things happened, some of them happy and some of them sad, but all of them inextricably a part of me.

Thomas, Me, Grammy and Grampy
I've always hated goobyes.

Olney is where we lived when my father’s parents died, when my father had his heart attack (and lived, thank God) and a lonely boy sat at home drawing home-made comics when Ronald Reagan came on the television and told me that we’d bombed the Hell out of Libya and France could go screw itself for not letting us use it as a stopping point.

Olney is where I had my first experience with the paranormal. It’s a long story that I don’t like to tell, so it’ll take some time before it ever makes it even to this blog, my great megaphone for my thoughts.

Olney is where Ron and I snuck out of his house to go to 7-11, dressed in black so his mom wouldn’t see us (we were kids, it made sense at the time) and getting chased down by a car that obviously thought we looked like vandals. We just wanted to buy squirt guns, man.

Olney Mill Park is where Rita, Rob and my brother tricked me to walk through a pitch black drainage tunnel by myself for…I don’t know. Fun? Traumatic experience, that.

Scott kissing Mia Beth, sledding down hills and nearly breaking my nose, my first flirtations with girls…that park held a lot of memories.

But now my brother’s family is leaving Olney, and so my last real attachment to it is leaving as well.

It’s all for the best, I suppose. The town is no longer what it once was. The old restaurants are gone and replaced with hipster organic markets and the ubiquitous Starbucks shops. The ICC has cut through a large swath of beauty that once was, and gypsy beggars line the intersections. The old movie theatre, Olney 9 Cinemas, where I saw Batman for the first time, is gone and replaced by a Harris Teeter. I saw Scrooged in that theatre, too, along with Die Hard 2 and Star Trek V. The only car accident my parents ever had, I was waiting in the parking lot of that theatre with my cousin Tim for them to pick us up.

The old Safeway is demolished and Blockbuster – the original one – is a liquor store. As the Counting Crows sang, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. And I just threw up a little in my mouth for making that reference.

In the Name of Progress

Millenium Falcon
Olney is also where I bought my membership in the Official Star Wars Fan Club from a kid who was walking door to door selling them. Well, let's just say my folks couldn't say no.

So I guess it’s all progress. And I’m fine with that. It’s just that Olney wasn’t expanded. It was pillaged. It’s still being pillaged. And I am sad for what I know it will become within another ten years.

So I guess I’m a little envious of people that can show their hometown to their kids. Mine will only know random stories and the occasional snapshot that reveals a house detail or neighborhood that doesn’t exist anymore and never can again. I guess it makes me feel older than I should right now.

But like Captain Kirk said ever so eloquently:

Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!

Cheap attempt to show Star Trek V some love aside, pain does help define us as people. It gives shape to our happiness and hopes, and reminds us at all times how fragile they are.

So goodbye Olney, for now and forever. You were a good place to live once, and I’ll always love what we were.



15 thoughts on “Goodbyes

  1. This was a very difficult read for me — except for the part where I participated in your torture; that was fun — but don’t let that weigh heavily on you, especially considering I probably deserve it for participating in your torture.

    1. Oh, I think of the lot of us, I was one who escaped a great deal of the torture. You three passed along some of it, but I was such a little deer in the headlights you tended to take pity on me. I just remember that tour through the drain pipe like it was yesterday — and wonder if, even as an adult, I’d do it again. 🙂

      1. Uncle John and Russell did it to me before all you posers. As an adult, I’d do it again just to do it, but I visited the park a few months ago and didn’t bother. Unlike gaming, it really isn’t that important a childhood experience to relive. It doesn’t carry unintended benefits (e.g., making new friends, a business opportunity).

  2. I don’t think I can join you in mourning the loss of Olney’s old restaurants and bars (“Cucoo’s Nest – Food, Folks and Drunken Nouveau Riche Lacrosse Players Half A Generation Removed From Being White Trash!”), but in defense of the new Olney, I will tell you that I think that Olney Beer and Wine is a really excellent shop for its size.

    However, that’s the only place in the town I actually patronized after moving out of the Blair Witch House on Ednor Road.

    1. You never knew the place in its prime. It was starting to pass its prime while you were there. There was definitely a culture shift around that time, when Olney became a boom town for people who’d wrecked Wheaton and wanted to flee somewhere ‘nicer’. We used to have a pretty grounded, blue-collar sensibility there. It got lost somewhere along the way, as seems to happen with everywhere that becomes hip to move/build.

      And that Olney Beer and Wine used to be a “Six Twelve”, the worst convenience store name ever.

      1. Cuckoo’s Nest was awesome when it opened, and the Stained Glass Pub 2 was the only place in Olney qualifying as “night life.” As a college student living off-campus, SGP2 was affordable and relatively fun. I can’t beloved some of the changes you’re mentioning; 6-12 is gone?!?! 🙂

      2. We may just disagree. I can’t admit to ever being a regular at the Nest or the Stained Glass, and I’m sure there were good times to be had at each. I just never had any.

        (And don’t even remind me about that place that does Kareoke. I think it relocated to the other side of the shopping center a few years ago, but it was still awful upon my last visit.)

        ((The Ale House, on the other hand, should be declared a National Treasure.))

        Olney Beer and Wine is different from the Sucks-Twelve (where Garrett used to work). OBW is up on the higher section of the huge shopping plaza, next to the Shoppers Food Warehouse. Small, cramped storefront that does a really excellent job with the limited space. Easy to miss, unfortunately.

      3. I’ve lived in Olney since 1986 and in the Olney/Rockville area since 1971. Olney Beer & Wine is a store that has been a fixture here since we moved here in ’86 & is still next door to the Shoppers Food Warehouse (used to be Grand Union store).

  3. Don’t forget our discussion yesterday including the Pizza Oven, Carvel Ice Cream, Doc’s Pharmacy (the first in the area to have stand up video games and a breakfast room), Gino’s, into Bob’s Big Boy, into Boston Market, The Sandpiper, High’s, Roy Rogers, The Toy Store with the comics, The music store that carried Lp’s, I could keep going. And who got you into the same model home as Brooke Meadow for a walk through, right next to our old house?

    1. Montgomery Donuts where I worked in high school, Moody’s restaurant, the sports shop, Radio Shack where I bought my Commodore Vic-20… Yes, we could all go on. 🙂

  4. Oh, THAT Olney Beer and Wine – I forgot about that one. Yeah, that was a pretty well-run shop.

    The tour through the Brooke Meadow model house next to the old homestead…if wishes were fishes. 🙂

    Superman, heatwave, migraine. Those three words will forever be associated in my mind.

    1. Even while living in Alexandria, I remember making trips to “Stained Glass Pub Too” for Wednesday bingo nights, which were a whole lot of drunken fun. I could have sworn you went a couple times too, kessel. Now Olney has a lame-ass Green Turtle in a shopping center I don’t even recognize anymore.

      Oh, and the original Blockbuster was an Erol’s first, but we always got our movies at the independent video store across the street from the 7-11.

      Also, remember Pizza Movers? We use to bribe them with bigger tips to get them to deliver all the way out in Brookeville.

  5. The “original” Blockbuster (that used to be Erol’s) moved into a new strip mall on the right side just past Ritucci’s restaurant. Yet before Erol’s there was Sound Odyssey (vhs tapes) in the Olney Town Center (with the Olney 9 cinemas). Now Blockbuster is gone.

    1. First and foremost, thanks for your comments!

      As far as video stores go…

      Before that was Olney Video, which before that was a store that housed the criminals who burgled my grandparents’ house in 1980. It was in the building that was behind Cuckoo’s Nest (I think it’s still there?) across from where Jerry’s and 7-11 are (is Jerry’s still there?).

      The owners of that video store hated me, because I always got pissy when they didn’t have the movies I wanted (and they never did), and as I got older I never once tried to go into their horrible “back room” that had “those” movies.

      I will always miss the Olney that was, and the Olney that helped make me who I am. I will always remember when I used to sneak out or with permission walk insane distances to get a terrible pizza from Pizza Oven (I still have a taste for burnt cheese).

      But boy, I miss the way things used to be. I just wish I could “go home” again.

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