Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Physics of Street Walking

In the early hours of a June evening, I find myself wandering the streets of Maritime Town, weeping. The air so good I could eat it, loss batting its feathery wings inside my ribcage. I came here to get out of my life for a time, and I've fallen in love. The sea, the fogs the sounds of wood on rope, on metal. Thunks in the fog, the creeee of sea birds, little peeps when distressed osprey wants you to move off a bit. The people I've met here over the years, the dogs and cats. Streets in The City an hour away. Bookstores. Music. Sea.

All this has gone in deep, and tonight, just a few days before my departure I am walking through town in a fog so thick I can't see more than a few feet ahead. I've come here every spring for 13 years; it is my second home. I've been to people's houses here, to their summer cottages, church suppers, funerals. I've been invited to a writer's group, to give readings of my own work in Large Nearby City.

I come in May because "there's no one here" then. At night the only place open is a cafe on the main street, run by a Scottish couple where the live music can be anything from a capello voice to didgeredoo, guitar, taber, and dulcimer. The people of this town are shy, and it's hard to live here. The people who stay on year after year have a "something" that I'm drawn to, and most come from somewhere else. Tonight the lights from the windows of Simple Times Cafe bleed into the murk as I walk toward them after having covered most of the streets.

My hips are sore [this old part of town is built on a steep slope, running south from the harbor] from uneven pavement and hills. The fog has condensed all over my windbreaker and hair and skin. There is a small group gathered around the singer/songwriter from Toronto this night, and the front doors are wide open. If I go in the proprietor will come over and sit with me. He'll pour tea into my cup and ask me if I'd like to try his new chocolate cake, or leek soup, or gingerbread, or whatever he has made that day. The room will take me in and surround me with the warmth of laughter, singing and low conversation.

But I walk past without going in, because I'm not one for goodbyes. For me, life is a continuous length of material with different patterns and weavings and colors. And time spent here is a continuation of everything else I do, even the train ride, the arrival back home and return to work. Even a memory, suddenly dropped into a day or evening, of a small place somewhere else in my landscape that belongs to me as surely as my fingers and feet do, and that whenever I need to go there I can, no matter what time of the day or night, no matter what I've done and said and become in the meantime, and when I do it'll be picking up the conversation where I left off. And I will be at home, as at home as I am anywhere.


Blogger jo(e) said...

Beautiful. I love the image of the fog woven throughout this piece.

The whole thing reminded me of Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of Pointed Firs.

11:51 AM  
Blogger KathyR said...

This is lovely.

And I would pay five bucks to hear the Scottish couple say "didgeredoo."

1:42 PM  
Blogger Kathryn and Ari said...

How lovely. I'm in love too, just from reading the lyricism of your descriptions!

2:17 PM  
Blogger hele said...

"The air so good I could eat it, loss batting its feathery wings inside my ribcage"

"Even a memory, suddenly dropped into a day or evening, of a small place somewhere else in my landscape that belongs to me as surely as my fingers and feet do"

My heart loved recognised these phrases. How do I know? Because of the way it contracted around your words.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous jarrett said...

A beautiful post, but I especially love where it ends. For the first time, just in the last few months, I've begun having feelings such as you describe. E.g. "My memories of my romance with P are so intense, rich, long-lasting, and constitutive of who I am, that it doesn't matter that we were together for barely a week." Suddenly a life that seemed dreary with loss and absence seems rich, even if that richness, like matter itself, is mostly empty space.

5:31 PM  
Blogger BlackenedBoy said...

Your posts come few and far between, but are always excellent.

I feel the same way about Movie State, which I visited for the first time this month; after a little bit of time there, I found the idea of returning to the East Coast positively horrifying.

I'm back here now, though.

10:33 AM  
Blogger SoNotFastFood said...

@ Kathyr: Scottish people don't sound very odd when they say 'didgeredoo'. I'm saying it now and it's not very funny. I'll have that money now.

Anyway, fantastic piece of writing. It feels very relaxed and tranquil - there's a very free atmosphere in your writing - I point out the fourth paragraph and the concluding sentence as examples.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

This is a very beautiful, poetic post. Your imagery is so evident that I can vividly imagine this place you speak of. I feel the same way about my family's summer cabin Up North, where we can walk down to the lake early in the morning or take a bike ride to the same market we have always used while we were there. Just reading your post, though, makes me want to visit the ocean soon. Maybe next year...Anyway, I enjoy your writing a lot and I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Wayfarer Scientista said...

This is lovely FireAnt. I want to be there with you. I was there with you. Glad to be back and visiting again.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Musings from Myopia, AKA John said...

My god, that was absolutely beautiful. Spell-binding.

12:23 PM  

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