I often joke that you know you're getting old when the numbers you get at the doctor's office and prompt you to jump for joy or swig a bottle of tequila. But it's not just the doctor who screws us up...
My beloved Columbus, Ohio is even worse than my beloved general practitioner because this city is constantly changing up on me. That's supposed to be a good thing, I know. The mayor and all the important people brag about how Columbus is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. What used to be a cowtown is now a town-town, and though the cows are on the perimeter--you can't tell from your nose.
When I was a kid, a trip to Eastland Mall was a day-trip and it was hella exciting. Are you kidding, a day shopping, eating a fat pretzel or candy from Woolworth's to gain strength to continue shopping? It was 90% Heaven. Of course, a full day shopping is entirely too long for any family to spend together. The ride home was never as much fun as the ride there, but that's a story best left for comedic fiction or my therapist...
And another thing, Downtown. We had the best department stores. Madisons, Lazarus and--again--the GIANT Woolworth's. We also had a huge outdoor skating rink, horse-drawn carriages at Christmas and later, City Center Mall. We had Bicentennial Park and Lazarus (okay I'm repeating myself, but I really can't stress enough the importance of Lazarus to Columbus).
When I was young, some communities weren't even really communities. They still had the horse-smell from the farms that studded them. Reynoldsburg was a sign with a tomato on it and a couple of houses next to it. Canal Winchester was a street. Pickerington was a thought. New Albany was a dream. Groveport was ... another street. Now, all these eastside communities are so vast and slick, establishments leave Columbus to get to them. I'm particularly peeved that they seem to be pulling all the best restaurants. What, residential Columbus doesn't need food?
Downtown now has condos and apartments galore. It's actually pretty beautiful. The riverfront boasts a brand new walk and my beloved Bicentennial park has been refurbished. The open areas have been changed to community gathering spots with jazz and movies on the lawn. More people are downtown than ever.
Columbus people today don't remember when the High Street stretch along the Ohio State University campus was a bunch of ramshackle, barely standing mom-and-pop joints where a student could get a full meal for two bucks and a contact high from the funny smoke drafing in from everywhere (you didn't hear it from me :-). These shops and restaurants were so low to the ground students would climb up on the roofs to sun themselves in the summer. And the Short North was nothing. Today, between the art galleries and fancy restaurants and boutique clothing stores I double-check my wallet to make sure I have enough cash to even stroll down High Street without embarassing myself.
I am happy that Columbus is thriving and getting its due credit but I can barely look around without remembering the places that used to be such a large part of my history. Change is good until it leaves us behind.
Much like I have to work at keeping those doctor's numbers where I want them to be I also have to work to embrace the changes in my city. Let's face it, anything that doesn't change is well on its way to dying out. I have to do crazy things like build muscle mass and eat vegetables just to stay close to my eighteen-year old self (okay, maybe not that close). Change is hard. And just as I change as an individual, it is only right my Columbus has changed.
I've decided that my memories are great for whipping out to dazzle and impress newbies and youngsters, but I also readily accept the advancements we have made. I do have some power over how I feel. I refuse to let a doctor's number make me feel old and I refuse to be left behind as my beloved city changes and prospers.