Dear Ald,

Been an odd day … It’s all quite incredible — not that twenty years have gone by nor even that I survived … it is just to walk over the same ground after so much has happened and to remember it all with such infinite clarity.

Last week, I went back to a little village outside of Manila called Paranaque. My last visit there was February 4, 1945, and I spent one day and one night getting shelled. So I took the nostalgic walk one early morning and drank it all in and began to feel sad because nobody came up to me as they did twenty years ago and grin and say, “Victory, Joe!” So three hours later I went through a tiny alley and wound up on a dirty beach overlooking the ocean, and this little grimy 8-year-old kid comes up to me and says, “What are you looking for, Joe?” And I cup this dirty little brown face in my hand and I answer, “My youth, Joe.”

Hey, Ald! You can’t go back. At least you can’t go back and experience. You return as a tourist just to observe. Like visiting a cemetery. Nobody’s around to talk to you and reminisce, even though deep in your gut you have this urge to tap some ghost on a shoulder and say, “Hey, buddy, remember that afternoon ….”

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Letter to Alden Schwimmer (1965)

In Anne Serling, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling, ch. 7 (2013).
Added on 7-Feb-22 | Last updated 7-Feb-22
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