Of permanence and change
I just read that the Georgia Dome in Atlanta was imploded this morning, and I experienced a familiar but still indescribable feeling … something about a big, concrete and steel structure, normally considered a permanent thing, being erased. Not so permanent after all. And worse when the structure was built in my lifetime. It even didn’t exist, had yet to be imagined, when I lived in Atlanta.
“Watch the historic Georgia Dome implode” says the video. I’m sorry, but a structure completed as recently as 1992 hardly qualifies as “historic.” At least not in my mind. Only 25 years old, and already they’re tearing it down.
Concrete and steel are supposed to be relatively permanent, aren’t they? Like the skyscrapers in downtown Oklahoma City that were there as I grew up. The tallest at the time was the First National Bank Building — 33 floors, built in 1931. Not huge by modern standards, and eclipsed by other buildings in recent decades. But it’s still standing, as is the 1909 house where I grew up.
It’s disturbing on some level, seeing “permanent” structures come and go. Maybe it’s the reminder that nothing in this world is permanent. Things that have existed throughout my lifetime seem permanent, seem like anchors in an ever-changing world. And yet, as with the Georgia Dome, they could be gone tomorrow. Maybe it’s progress. Maybe I’m resistant to change. Maybe I’m just getting old and don’t like the reminders.
I don’t know; it’s hard to describe. I do know it’s one reason I love the mountains. In my lifetime, at least, they have not noticeably changed. They are the strongest, most permanent thing I know. If I leave for a year or two or ten, they’ll still be there when I come back. (With apologies to Star Trek, they are “ever changing, never changed.”) That’s reassuring, especially in a world where we raze “historic” 25-year-old concrete structures.