Notes from my Knapsack – Granville Sentinel 8-29-13
A story on the way home (pt. 3)
If Nelson had learned anything as a consulting engineer, it was to not make assumptions until all the information was assembled.
This town, this village, this Granville that he was driving into might be the place his now-deceased sister had put on her paperwork as hometown, but since as far as he knew she'd never lived here, there was a connection he wanted to find.
The connection could just be an aesthetic one: it's obviously a pretty place. The high tower on the ridge above, seen from the highway, then the encounter with the four corners of churches and strip of old-fashioned downtown, with no empty storefronts that he could see, and even commercial activity on the second floor, all made for a Norman Rockwell sort of scene that could call out to someone who had long searched for a place they could call home.
That would fit his sister, since he and she had been making their way in the world on their own for decades, after their mother's death and what with their father's long absence. Sheryl and he hadn't even met face to face in over a decade before her sudden death last week in Las Vegas, the last place her cross-country questing had taken her.
But even allowing for the question of why and how she might have passed through here, given that mother was buried in Georgia, Nelson had raised a family in Florida, and Sheryl's last three hospitals where she'd worked as a nurse had been Dallas, Phoenix, and Las Vegas . . . even allowing for that, would charming appearance alone account for that mysterious "Hometown" blank on her personnel file? Do you call a place home just because it looks like the home you never had?
Some might have, Nelson thought, but Sheryl was just hard-headed enough to make that unlikely. There was something else, something personal . . .
Turning into a parking place in the shadow of a ridiculously charming white Greek Revival church with a golden weathervane on top, Nelson got out of his rental car muttering "Rockwell." He walked directly into a bank, a little more modern inside than a Saturday Evening Post cover but very efficient in appearance and activity.
Stepping to a teller, he said "Excuse me, I'm just passing through, and wondered where a visitor should go if looking for a burger and a beer." The woman across the counter smiled, pointed back out the front window, and said "Brews is the place right across the street for what you want."
Nodding, Nelson went back out and across the street, half-waving at a driver who stopped as he entered the crosswalk who had waved at him. It must be that kind of place, he thought, and then stepped back as the car in the outside lane sped up and zipped barely in front of him.
Okay, not everyone. Making a mental note of the coffee shop before him, he turned to his left and headed for a place with a balcony already showing signs of being where a burger and a beer guy could sit and collect his thoughts.
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.