About a year and a half ago, I wrote about a place that most people have never heard of. With that story, I wanted so badly to convey a sense of place (and probably one of belonging, too) seeing as those of us who got a chance to live there were eventually told to leave, at some point. When the barbed-wire fencing came down and the guard gates were left and abandoned, that place fell into the hands of those who were unprepared to care for it or who never quite understood its history, its present, and what all of it meant to us.
Since I posted that story, I have been in contact with former residents, some of whom were only children (as I was) during their years there and others who received orders to be stationed there, either as singles or with families in tow (or who eventually started families while living there). I’ve shared stories with people who attended the same schools as me, during different decades even, but we still laughed about having had the same teachers. I have been contacted by several retired enlisted men who sent me stories about lifelong friendships and how they have returned to the area to visit those friends only to be heartbroken by the sight of its disrepair. Some have taken their spouses there just to share with them what it used to be like, even though it has been left to disorder. Most have thanked me for writing that post.
That little story became a community in itself, albeit a tiny one. We all belong to this place, no matter our age or where we came from or where we were eventually shipped off to. In a way, there is still a piece of us that continues to live there or, at the very least, a piece of us that likes to go back to visit…even if it is just through a humble little blog post (this link includes more comments).
(As I write this, and other posts about sense of place, I will try not to bombard you all with my nostalgic whims. I think I’m just working through my move to Oklahoma via emotional purging. There is more on the way.)