I had misgivings.
Most of us, were we able to encounter our much younger selves, would grab the hapless cub by the scruff of the neck and apply at a minimum a good talking to. When I look back on 25-year-old me I am not sure whether to be more astounded by how foolish I once was or by how well things have eventually turned out for me.
Three decades ago I was by turns cocky and indecisive...almost always adopting each mode at exactly the wrong moment! Of course most of the day to day life of a resident is erased by sleep deprivation then buried under new memories. But I figured a visit to the old stomping grounds would bring a lot back...
As it turns out, Sioux Falls is a very pleasant place. It has more than doubled in size since I left and mostly it is clean, functional, prosperous. I am told the unemployment rate is about half the lamentable national average.
But if you look closer you start to see a few odd little things. A surprising number of tattoo parlors. And a phenomenal number - around 80 I understand - of these little storefront casinos...
|Here's a combination sub shop and casino|
|This one in a vintage gas station|
Video gambling is legal in South Dakota so you saw these places, open all hours, none of them really seeming to have any patrons at least in the daylight.
Eventually I wandered over to where I recalled Sioux Valley Hospital being. I think it is still in there somewhere, but it has been overwhelmed by the gigantic medical megalopolis that has sprung up around, over and under it!
Now, there is nothing wrong with a nice medical facility. But this is just too darn much. And it is one of several such in town. All the others are pouring resources into keeping up with this outfit which now goes by the moniker of "Sanford Health". I could not even figure out the dimensions of this complex, but it was huge.
And still growing. That evening we dined with some of our old friends. They lived five blocks away but the sky was visibly a neon blue from the distinctive lighting the medical center uses. And they told us that there were expansion plans afoot that might bring the medical center to their very doorstep.
It all happened courtesy of this guy, whose bronze statue stands out front...
I do not begrudge him his business acumen, nor do I think there is anything wrong with his philanthropy. But I do think he has long surpassed what common sense would consider to be the medical needs of this community, and he is just sluicing more buckets of cash (which could find other worthy uses!) into an already bloated and ludicrous medical system.
There was something about the above picture that made my vague nervous feeling intensify. Hmmm, it almost looks as if there is a clock tower behind him.
My God. It all makes sense now.
We have rampant gambling. We have a huge, implausible edifice rising out of nowhere. At night it has a garish blue glow. And out front a sturdy fellow with a sharky grin....
It was a truly surreal experience. So much of what I saw on my "trip back" was alien and implausible....admixed with the occasional slap of surprise when I recognized a building or some other minor feature. I kept expected around the next corner to encounter the silver DeLorean.
And I was primed and ready for that 30 year younger version of myself. Man I had a few things to say to him/me he before he went back in time.....