The Lost Generation

In Ernest Hemingway’s book “The Sun Also Rises”, he refers to the Lost Generation, namely, those who came of age during the World War I era.  By lost, he didn’t mean gone, vanished or disappeared.  He was referring to wandering aimlessly, without direction.

I thought of that the other day when I was driving to Falmouth to visit their library for the first time.  I had been to Falmouth a few times before, and knew where it was, or so I thought.. 

It is an unspoken fact that there are always at least two and frequently more ways to get from any point A to any point B.  Unfortunately, it appears that most people, yours truly included, only know one.  And in my case, that is not the route I chose to take.  Nope.  I reasoned that there had to be a shorter way then the one I knew, and I was going to find it.  All that it entailed was driving south for a while and then turning left, which I did.  However, since the last time I had been down that way, someone had apparently switched all the road signs, because I did not come out where I was supposed to.  Instead, the road  dead ended at another road requiring me to turn left or right. 

I turned right, relatively sure I was still in control and continued to drive several miles until I came to a village square.  I quickly realized that I was in the little town of Cumberland.  I knew this instinctively because there was a big sign that said Cumberland.  The problem with that is, Falmouth is several miles south of Cumberland.  So at this point, in order to go south, I turned right, onto a road that said Route 9 W.  I know, I know, but somehow, it just seemed right (as in correct).

After driving another few miles through beautiful backwoods country, I finally came to a fork in the road, providing me with a new opportunity to make a decision.  Fortunately, there was a convenience store/gas station there, so I caved in to reality, and went in to ask directions.  Behind the counter was a man of foreign heritage who was hired, I suspect, for is ability to make change because we quickly encountered a failure to communicate.  Our conversation went something like this.

“Can you tell me how to get to Route 1 in Falmouth?”

“Where it is you wish to go?”

“Um, Route 1, in Falmouth.”

“I do not know this Falmouth”

‘If I keep following this road, where will it take me?”

“Which way do you going now?”

“Well, I am going this way now (pointing).  I just came from Cumberland center.”

“OK, I know this.  Go back to Cumberland to the light.  There is a gas station on the corner.”

“Yes, I know where that is.  Should I turn right there?”

“No, no.  Go in gas station and ask them.  They will know.”

Mumbling to myself, I got back in the car and returned to Cumberland Center.  If I turned left, I would go back where I had come from before.  If I went straight, I knew it would take me into North Yarmouth, and of course, I knew the road I was on would take me back to a foreign man that didn’t apparently know where he was either.  My alternatives were to stop in the gas station, or turn right.  So I turned right.

Within a few miles, things started to look familiar and I began to experience a sense of accomplishment.  It was just a matter of time now.  However, off to my right was a cove and a yacht basin, and in front of that was the Riverview Cemetery.  Now I knew exactly where I was since my wife and I had purchased our burial plots here.  I was in Yarmouth, which is north of Cumberland which is north of Falmouth.  I had  now been driving for well over a half hour and was probably fifteen minutes from the house.  Bummer.  It appears that I had taken the scenic route to Route 1.

After that, it was a piece of cake.  I found Falmouth without further adieu, and lucked into finding the library.  However, after doing my research, I decided not to drive all the way back up Route 1.  There had to be a quicker way, right?  So I asked the librarian if she knew the best way to get to Gray.  She said “I don’t live here.  “Ask her”, pointing to the other librarian.  So I did, and she said “I know how to get there, but I don’t know how to tell you to.”  Fortunately, the reference librarian had overheard our conversation and got on Google and printed off a map showing me the way.  What’s the fun in that, I thought, but accepted it and made my way home before dark.

The bottom line here, it seems is, although we all profess to know where we are going, most of us don’t have a clue how to get there.  We are all, in fact, the Lost Generation.  However, being the eternal optimist that I am, I chose to look on the bright side.  First, I came away with a whole new sense of belonging since no one I had talked to could clearly communicate how to get somewhere else either.  And of course, the best part was, my wife wasn’t with me.  I’d call that a win, win.





About oldmainer

I am a retired manager living in Southern Maine and a would be writer of poetry, narratives, short stories, and random opinions, and that's how Oldmainer was born. Recently, I decided to try an experiment. I added photography to the mix, using only a cheap cell phone with a limited camera and the editing software that came with it, and added the blog site Inklings at to showcase the results. So, feel free to use whatever you find interesting or worthy, but please honor the terms of my copyright when and if you do. They may not be much, but they are still a piece of me. I appreciate your checking me out and hope that you find something that will encourage a return visit. Thanks for stopping by.
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2 Responses to The Lost Generation

  1. quiall says:

    hahaha That was fun!


  2. you are a storyteller par excellence


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