Notes from my Knapsack – Granville Sentinel 8-15-13
A story on the way home (pt. 2)
Nelson had rented a car at the Columbus airport, and was driving east as his navigation device instructed.
The ramps and merges and exits were a labyrinth writ large, and mildly nerve-racking, although he thought there were few places more anxiety producing to get in and out of than the Miami terminal, which he was fairly used to.
His ex-wife and kids had moved to Miami years ago, and they loved it; he stayed in Charlotte, far enough to fly more than he drove when visiting, going often enough but not as much as he'd have liked. They had their lives, growing off in their own directions after college, the boy to FSU and his daughter to Wake Forest. Neither seemed interested or likely to give him grandchildren.
Or to make his sister an aunt, he thought, musing as the road straightened out, pointing due east and rolling up and down the mild hills of Ohio. There were moments of what, for Nelson, felt like grand vistas, though he suspected that locals were less impressed than he was.
His engineer's eye saw the drainage ahead, having crested a higher ridge which must have marked the watershed encompassing the urban area he was leaving behind. The valleys and distant ridges gathered watercourses to his left and right, the outflow somewhere on ahead.
It was clearly a rural area, and farms became more and more evident as he drew nearer to his destination; it made him wonder if this Granville was a farming community as much as a college town. With Denison in the heart of it, you would expect a different sort of country village, and it fit with the sign he saw flash by on his left, and high up atop a grain elevator, a single panel next to a flagpole at the summit, simply saying "Think" – not even an exclamation point, just the word, big and black.
If this Granville was a place where farmers and students would pause to think, it would be different than the kind of place he'd have thought his sister would be attracted to. She was more of a "Just do it!" person, with an exclamation point for sure, no question about it.
Sheryl's impulsive nature might have had something to do with her having listed Granville, OH as her hometown on the employment forms at the hospital where she'd only recently started working, but no one in Las Vegas knew her well enough to know what the connection was.
Nelson's work in hydraulic engineering, even after two kids through college, had left him comfortable enough, and the money his sister's insurance left to him felt like a sort of obligation. An obligation to find out what she cared about, to get to know his sister a bit better now that he no longer could, and put this bequest to work in her memory where he had so few.
What was the tie she had to this town, where as far as he knew from their wandering childhood they'd never lived, where there was no indication in her work history that she'd ever been as an adult? Yet he'd seen her strong, bold handwriting in the line marked "Hometown" put down Granville.
He curved off the exit the disembodied voice from his dashboard directed, and at the top of the ramp, turned left. Maybe this town could tell him something about his sister's history, and help him understand better his own.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him what you think happens next at firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Knapsack on Twitter.