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lieu.

I have never written much about place. I love the world but feel in it a perpetual nomad–to me the line there’s no place like home has always favored the less obvious of its ambiguities–and feel, in it, somehow apart.

These days I am living mere blocks from the ocean. I hear gulls screaming in the morning, above the sounds of the sidewalks and streets; the air carries on it the sexual scent of sea. Those mere blocks are so clogged with cars and the obstinate press of the city that I sometimes forget its proximity, the pulse of humanity more immediate, or clamoring, than the ocean’s quiet pull, but this morning I walked in the opposite direction of my usual path, and ended up wandering on and on down the pier.

The water called me out of myself, and called forth the brine of tears–was it a saline sorrow, or joy? It was startling to see the reaction of this animal body, and after an hour–perhaps more–I came home in a state of grateful dismay. The city seems to cause or encourage me to burrow inward, my psyche worming down from the clamor and the overwhelm of a myriad of subjectivities, and I have loved it for this. But there are other routes away from this pressure, and I have ignored them.

I want to listen more to the language of the water, and the waves. Their lapping at the shore (for how many eons now have they been practicing that song?) makes my own tongue sound like babbling nonsense. I want to spend more time wandering outside, instead of within. I want to realize that loving the whole of the globe does not preclude having a stake in a small piece of it, and that in truth the world is starved for such particular loves.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Heh. I just posted about my own experience as a nomad migrating between two states, never quite feeling like a true “resident.”

    I think I’ve always felt this way, though, even when I lived in one place. I think being intentionally child-free is part of it: having children & becoming involved in the PTA, Little League, and such is one way many people set down roots. If you don’t live in that world–and if you don’t belong to a church, synagogue, or other “community”–it’s easy to feel like you’re on the fringes looking in.

    But then again, I’ve always felt that NOT belonging is a great gift if you’re a writer. How can you observe a place and its community if you’re subsumed IN it? It’s the nomads on the edges who have the best vantage point for seeing, I think.

    October 12, 2010
  2. Lorianne: I’ll leap over and leave a note at yours, but oh, this resonates. I’ve always felt on the fringes (always, at least, unless I’m in nature, but then I tend to feel wistful for a human home), whether as a result of a transient childhood, or something more deep, and as an adult with no designs toward family, I’m not sure this will ever change.

    I like your words about the perspective distance brings. At the same time, someone I admire deeply once remarked that the greater one’s mastery of a topic or art, the greater one’s separation from it, and somehow I think a parallel can be drawn to knowledge of a place; or,to put it another way, that the more intensely one knows an area, the more deeply of it one can speak. In this world of surfaces I sometimes think observations from within are rarer, and more powerful.

    October 12, 2010
  3. What a beautiful piece, Siona! I look forward to more as you wander and explore within and without. I always felt rooted before coming to Montreal, but in spite of my explorations here and my appreciation of it, I’ve yet to feel “rooted” in this city; I doubt I ever will. Because it’s the land and natural world that really speak to me and to which I feel like I can speak back, not this created world of steel and concrete, no matter how interesting or beautiful. It’s taken me a while to realize this; you get seduced, you know.

    October 13, 2010
  4. Beautiful thoughts. I am glad these sound more hopeful than the most recent posts. Your beautiful soul was getting blackened from stewing inside too long, maybe? I know the call of the sea from having lived beside it too. I moved away six years ago and still miss it. Be sure and walk to the pier more often from now on, and take advantage of it while it’s on your doorstep!

    October 16, 2010

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