Friday, February 08, 2013


Morning. Friday, of course, so I'm writing only to myself. Another quiet winter day: gray sky, still air. The net of twigs between porch roof and window sill is motionless. A far-away crow flickers through the tiny-tiled mosaic of sky beyond the net.

I said to a friend who is torn between beloved places: I'm lucky, only having one home, and knowing what it is. I never really thought about that before.

I may love tales of wandering, I may love handling languages and stories from far away and long ago, but I'm no doubt where I belong. I belong in Portland, Oregon, and I would rather live in a scruffy suburban cottage here than in a house in the Greek isles overlooking the sea, than in a Venetian palazzo full of art. Someday I'll live in the city again, perhaps. And someday I may make another road trip, another excursion or two. I still greatly desire to see the southern stars. But this is home, forever and for good.

Not that it will remain. Its destruction goes on apace: this recession has slowed it, but not stopped it. But I've lived with that all my life: hill after hill logged, lopped, trashed; mile after mile of breathtakingly ugly strip installed, full of corporate outposts, each with its own logo and distinctive building-plans and parking lots, dropped in here just as they might be in Phoenix or Miami. Many of them not even aligned east-west, or squared with the street they front on, as if they're eager to display their contempt for the local and the homely.

The sky, too, has changed. I wonder if I'm the only person who has noticed it? The clouds are not as vague and formless as they used to be. With the climate change, we get more of the beautiful cloud-towers of the continental U.S. Thunderstorms are not quite so rare. The sky is clear more often. The shift is small, but I'm quite certain of it: these are the not skies I grew up under. They're wilder, deeper, more beautiful, and more dangerous. You can put change in motion, my dears, but you can't control where it goes. These are skies of disaster, but they may also be skies of a new covenant, someday.

Well. But I'm an ordinary man, trying to work out the end of an ordinary life. I've dodged disaster so far, and my worries are about whether I'll work out what to do with my chicken stock before it goes bad, and whether I can find socks that I'll really like. I float along in the dream of America. And outside there, today, not breath or or twitch of wind, not a single distinct form in the cloud-cover. Sleep, dear ones. Sleep.


Zhoen said...

I've only ever felt home in my own skin, stretched to include my D, then Moby, now our house. But I could live anywhere as uncomfortably.

I find the Life After People series to be ridiculously comforting.

marly youmans said...

Oh, yes, I longed as a child to belong in one place, and now I have lived in so many. And the longest in a place that is clearly not mine... Beautiful but not mine, even though I've written about it and owned a home.

I remember weeping with joy when I was told we would move back to the South (of course, that was after the school where my teacher thought I was retarded because of my drawl...) And now I live far away in a cold place. Well. So it is.

How lovely that you have a place. And live there.

alembic said...

What a treasure to have a place, one that situates you not only in geography, but also history ... roots you in time so that memory can grow deep roots to feed the blossoming crown of sight, the kind that comes from experience. I love this post, especially because I always wanted to have just one home, even as life kept uprooting me all over the place.

I love what you say about the skies. I noticed the same clarity of blues and sculptural play of clouds around here in California lately too.

Murr Brewster said...

The lifetime of chicken stock is an appropriate frame for worry.

Lucy said...

Can't you freeze the chicken stock? I rather embarrassingly found a batch of socks for diabetics which are some of the most comfortable.

I've lived here longer than anywhere now since childhood. The exact place feels something like home, but it'll always be a strange land. That's OK.

A lovely post, whatever.