Archive for April 5th, 2022


GC Myers- Eldridge Park 1994 sm

The sadness that there’s no way to convey a powerful memory to people who weren’t there at the same time.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

I came across this word, aulasy, in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows after posting yesterday’s blog entry. For those of you wondering where the word came from, aulasy is a contraction of Auld Lang Syne, the Scottish term for times long past.

Reading this made me smile a bit wistfully because it describes a feeling I often have when I write about my work and how it came about. This is especially so in those posts that rely on memories or recollections that loom large in my mind.

I often come away thinking: Why should anyone care about this?

It’s the same feeling I have described here before in talking about sharing stories I’ve gleaned from doing my family’s genealogy. Sometimes when I am telling a tale, a certain faraway look comes to the eyes of the listener, a dull glaze that tells me that my story has overstayed its welcome. I can see that, even if it’s the story of their own ancestor, it has no meaning or connection to them.

I usually quickly wrap it up at that point. You want others to share what you believe to be a powerful memory but sometimes you can’t make that emotional link of story or image to others. So, I carry away a dull bit of sorrow at not being able to have them make that same connection.

The Dictionary description of aulasy uses the example of showing your childhood home or a family photo to a friend and realizing neither has any meaning to this friend. It’s just another house or another face to them because they don’t carry the weight of memory that you attach to these things.

Of course, it’s a reciprocal feeling. I have sometimes felt my own eyes glaze over when the shoe is on the other foot though I often do like hearing others’ family stories or looking at family photos. Their stories and photos are often interesting– sometimes funny or tragic– and informative. They provide me with further evidence of our interconnectedness.

But it’s never with the same emotional link that the person telling the story or sharing the photos possesses.

And at such times I empathize with their own sense of aulasy.

Despite this feeling of aulasy, I will probably keep on sharing stories and memories, photos and old work. Just connecting with a single person with any one of these things makes it worth the risk of feeling this small bit of sorrow once in a while.

For example, the old painting from 1994 at the top is a depiction of Eldridge Park, a small amusement park that was in the shadows of the Thatcher Glass plant in Elmira Heights. By 1994, it had fell into disrepair and was closed.

Most of the buildings that were there in 1994 are gone but it has been resurrected in a way though not as a true amusement park. It is more of a community gathering space now. But for those folks who knew the park in the many decades before it closed, there is a flood of memories, photos, and stories to be shared.

I would share some of mine, but I have had enough aulasy this morning…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: