The Tunnel Of Time

Me on the Pumpkinvine Trestle. May 2010.

A beginning is difficult for me choose, like my choosing a favorite song on Interpol's Our Love To Admire from a couple years back. I loved every damn song on that album. Honestly, it began so long ago that I am now deep into my third decade of my relationship with Paulding County at thirty-seven. It is not a love/hate relationship as I have suppressed much of what I feel about Paulding County. I cannot manifest strong enough emotions to love or hate the place. I am more afraid that I will accidentally revive enough of the past to love it again and that would be very bad for me. 

There is something that always makes me uneasy and happy when I return to Paulding County. I was extra uneasy two days ago and I have been for five months after returning from New York. That something is the past, a past that is complex beyond what a normal person would consider complex. I cannot tell anyone just yet, but I am going to write about it outside of my journals one day.

The past claws at me as soon I get on the western side of Atlanta. It hits me like a cramp as soon I see Six Flags on I-20 and it grows more frequent as I near Paulding County. Crossing that county line requires a toll from me not quantified in dollars, but in pain.


I stopped at the cemetery in Hiram. I was there a month ago to visit the graves of my mother and grandparents. It was not my dead relatives that made it difficult for me to go there, it was something much deeper than six feet under the red clay. I am afraid to visit too often as if I would become attached to it again, fall in love with it like an ex boyfriend and rekindle a romance that again will end in broken hearts. I am covered in glue already and I cannot do that again.


My superficial and present purpose for being there was to ride my bike on the Silver Comet Trail from Dallas to the west. The trail winds its way over the ridges and through the woods of the county to Alabama. The woods it passes through are not the ones I played in as a boy, but they look nearly identical with the hills of pines, hardwoods and creeks.

A wooden trestle spanning over the Silver Comet Trail in Paulding County. Photo by me, May 2010.


I must have picked this section to ride for a reason. I was looking for myself and or looking for someone I lost in the 1980s. As if he was going to ride by in a chance encounter, we would recognize each other and he would want to speak to me. The eternal fool I am when I had a chance at this impossible possibility a few years ago.

Me on the Silver Comet Trail near Hiram in the late 1990s.

I had walked portions of the Silver Comet Trail in the late 1990s when it first opened in Cobb and Paulding counties. I had not been back as I moved back to Atlanta and went about a very different life. There I was back on the trail at a different segment, the same person, but feeling much different.

This is the new Paulding County that I do not know as seen from the Silver Comet Trail. This did not exist when I lived there. Photo by me, May 2010.

Being in my childhood home county requires me to function in two worlds: the past and the present. I would have preferred that it was only the present and enjoyed nothing but the ride, I kept forcing myself to remain in the moment. To most residents that live there now it is the present and future as they have no history there. I have volumes of history like any person that grows up in one place and stays there until they turn twenty-two years old. What is in those volumes is what I cannot speak of yet.


The Brushy Mountain Tunnel. Photo by me, May 2010.

Up ahead was the past, my past, in the Brushy Mountain Tunnel and I had to go through it. I had not been in this spot since something ended as a teenager with another boy in that very tunnel. That memory of that boy does not bother me, he was a good memory, a memory I would not erase from the Memorex of my life if I somehow could. 


Photo by me, May 2010.


I was seventeen again in 1990 and it was pitch black. Next to me was another teenage boy that I was involved with and could not find a way to love. We completed our ending there. He was a memory of the good kind; not everything in Paulding County was bad. He was part of the past I could talk about, not that I ever did.


There were other people, other boys from my boyhood, that were not so kind and some that I loved. They went missing from my life one after the other. They all left their marks and I have no idea what I left with them.

Me as I time traveled. Photo by me, May 2010.


Other than the graves and the tunnel, I encountered nothing more of my past. I still carry this uneasy feeling. Something, somewhere is amiss, it has something to do with my past and I cannot figure it out.

I left Paulding County for good in 2002 and that was the third time. I was a slow learner. For five months, I have wanted to grab a shovel and start pecking away at the dirt covering it. I have this feeling and I have had it since New York.


My past is not a past I would like to forget, but it is one that I suppress until the time comes to open it a final time. I do not want to run or ride a bike from the past, but for now it remains buried.