0023 On to Gettysburg (USA 023—revisit)

Gettysburg Travel Blog

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Day 010: 3 hours; 2.5 kms

 Not far from Hanover is another Civil War town of much greater historical significance:  Gettysburg. It’s here where the Southern army reach their highwater mark.  It’s here where the tide of the war turned in favour of the North… This was the beginning of the end of the war. 

I park my car and head straight to the main square where vivid memories of a very significant summer in my life come back to me again:  Summer of 1994.

Summer of 1994

 1994 was when I got my first “real job” in the USA and immersed myself in the American culture.  I came here to Pennsylvania to work for my uncle for the summer helping build houses.  I remember, feeling a bit disconcerted at seeing up close what the “American Dream” is all about:  centering your life around one Big Goal:  A 3 bedroom house in the suburbs with a big yard.  I saw how people would spend their entire life working towards that Big Goal.

I remember coming to the conclusion that that goal simply wasn’t for me.  I needed to do something else with my life—I wasn’t sure what, but it had to be something else.  I figured I had to go off to another country to figure out what my “dream” was.  After a few months I wanted to get as far from the American Dream as possible.

I remember an older good hearted gentleman here in Pennsylvania trying to get me hooked up with a girl here so he sort of tricked me into going out on a date by inviting me to go to Gettysburg and then stopping to pick up a young lady he had arranged to be my “date”.  Me and the girl both thought it was pretty funny—and we had a pleasant time, wandering around the battlefield and learning about the different phases of this significant place.  But of course, I was in no mood to get serious with a typical Pennsylvania girl, so that was the end of that.

It was a fun summer, going on hayrides, boating on nearby lakes and hitting the waterpark… but I knew this culture and this part of the world just wasn’t for me…

Now, as I wander around Gettysburg yet again, I ponder on the significance that summer had in my development.  Thanks to that reaction to the typical American lifestyle I went on to live abroad for several years and travelled around the world.  And when I did eventually move back to the United States, I did it with a strong sense of identity and confidence that I can “pick and choose” which elements of American culture I want to embrace and which ones I don’t.

Even now, walking around Gettysburg with a guitar over my shoulder, I’m living my own life and my own dreams, not following the expectations of the culture around me.

I find a park bench right on the square.  I pull out my guitar and I’m soon joined by a fellow I’m met at the Ragged Edge Coffeehouse here a few months ago while looking for an Open Mike to play at.  He happens to be carrying a mandolin with in, so he pulls it out and we jam together for a bit… My first reencounter of old acquaintance while on my tour…

It’s cool to share my parkbenching moment with another musician, and to try to explain my vision of playing music all over the world, one town at a time.

And so ends a pleasant and thoughtful revisit of Gettysburg.

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photo by: Andy99