soundings

The Yo-Yo Effect

Athens is a yo-yo town. It’s not home to a particularly large amount of yo-yo toys. It wasn’t the birthplace of early 90’s rap phrases. It’s a yo-yo town in a geographical sense. People live here for a while. They leave. They come back. They leave again. They come back again. And so on, and so on.

yoyoIf you’ve lived around the area for longer than six years, you’ve seen this scene acted out repeatedly with only minor variations:

“Bob, holy crap. I thought you moved to Bangladesh”.

“I did move to Bangladesh, Steve. I joined the professional hacky-sack circuit. It’s was a life-long dream of mine. Now, I’m back. Are they hiring at The Taco Stand”?

You can seamlessly replace Bangladesh with Portland, Oregon, San Diego, California or a lakefront cottage on the beautiful shores of the Sea of Tranquility and the meaning remains the same.

It’s a great town. I live here (and people still think that it’s a great town, despite my presence). Wanting to discover how the yo-yo yo’s, I want to pose the question—Why do people continue to leave and come back to this area? Why are we at the apex of the yo-yo motion, when the yo is fully strung? (We could be at either pole on the yo-yo metaphor and it still works, although, I think that, since real yo-yos aren’t automatic and do require at least a wrist flick for proper yoing, maybe one of the newer, lazy man’s, automatic yo-yos works better as the metaphor. Maybe a town with as many art cars as Athens should be a butterfly yo-yo. I don’t know. Write in and tell me.)

No matter the choice of metaphor, the effect is still the same. I’d guess that the reasons are still the same. But, that doesn’t get us any closer to figuring out their cause. What I have trouble understanding is how a city can simultaneously attract and repel its inhabitants with such power. If Athens is so awful, why does everyone keep coming back? If it’s so great, why do people leave? It’s like fire, or heroin, in that respect—beautiful, tantalizing, appearing one way from one perspective and the exact opposite from another.

I’m wagering that there really is an answer, there really is an origin for the yo-yo effect. I just don’t know it. Maybe you do. If so, let us know…if you’re still in town.

Bowen Craig