“Unlike John, I had come back, not to stay, but only for an hour or so–long enough to see and to savor again, for the first time in nearly five years, that small and surprisingly unchanged part of the city where I was born and had spent so much of my life, where I knew every building and back alley as well as I knew my own front yard, where I had been a young priest, where I had had my own parish, and where, as in no place else, I had belonged, I had been at home. I suppose it’s the mark of the provincial man, but in any case I find that I have a special and lasting love for this place which is so obviously just a place, which has no particular beauty or grace or grandeur of scene, but which is, quite simply, a neighborhood, my neighborhood, a compound of sights and smells and sounds that have furnished all my years. What kind of man is it who, after almost fifty years, can still spend half his time remembering the cry of the chestnut man, as it came floating down the street on a winter night…?
“And the people, all the people, the people one knew and understood almost by instinct, who had warmth and wit and kindness and an astonishing cascading rush of words–and who also had long and unforgiving memories, and tongues that cut like knives….”
Edwin O’Connor, The Edge of Sadness