You're haunted, you're hunted, wherever you roam.
Spoon River, Spoon River, is calling you home.
For the river is time, as it flows toward the sea,
and in leaving its banks you are free, you are free.
So very, very long ago (45 years!) I took those words to heart, feeling nostalgic already for having to leave the river, Santa Fe, my childhood—even before I left. I felt a presentiment of how it would be, away, how I would always miss it and feel part of me missing, elsewhere.
I would have been in ninth grade when I read the lines in our school literary magazine, The Skirmisher. The older kids were performing The Spoon River Anthology for the spring's play, a story about leavings, ghosts, lives and losses. And I was heartbroken because we were all being moved away from the river—the Santa Fe River, in our case, where I had roamed so blissfully, collecting tiny water birch cones, swinging on a fat rope from a tree on the far bank the last days of the school year, learning, loving, discovering up close the world of sorrow and delight as adolescents do. We had to leave that Eden for a new campus elsewhere in town, no longer up the deep canyon where artists lived and horses could be climbed to at lunchtime up Cerro Gordo, the "fat hill."
And now, this year, next Saturday, the school reunion will be there on the river, at that place that affected me so profoundly, that embodies all loss for me, all longing. And I won't be able to be there—another loss that all these years later still hurts. You can't revisit the past, no, except in heart and mind. I know they say you shouldn't even try. But I would have loved dearly in this instance to go back to my river of time just for that single afternoon.
image: Santa Fe River, City of Santa Fe