Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Life: A Retrospective

I feel like I am traveling today, in time and psychic space, around the world in eight hours, the way I often am.  Writing myself into Mallorca all morning, then having a burrito al pastor in Los Altos, under the trees, and two doors down buying some Darjeeling tea (with strawberries, which puts me as much at the Teahouse Santa Fe as further off in India among the breathtaking peaks of the Himalayas or shaking off my Preraphaelite umbrella in a rainy calico-clothed yellow teashop on a cobbled street in Bath).  Two of my library books are set in Scotland, and the other is Marguerite Youcenar's fictional memoir of the Emperor Hadrian—which reminds me simultaneously of my Latin classes back in seventh grade on upper Canyon Road in Santa Fe, our explorations of Hadrian's Wall a few summers ago, and trips to Rome in various Septembers, visiting Hadrian's villa, the Pantheon he built from precious stone, and then of course his mausoleum on the Tiber with all of its operatic associations, otherwise known to me since childhood as Tosca's angel-with-sword-capped Castel Sant'Angelo.

I've decided I'll post the story of my life in various time-travels here on this blog, more systematically than I've already done.  I'll alternate the present with the past, making connections as they suit, dotting the i's and adding accents to the e's at all those charming café tables where I sit/sat/sit again and rest my feet and write postcards.

I will also travel with Fitzgerald to the Riviera, with Lawrence Durrell to Alexandria, with Marguerite Duras to Gibraltar, to Tarquinia—those other worlds familiar to me as my own.

An ancient city changing under the brush-strokes of thoughts which besieged meaning, clamouring for identity; somewhere there, on the black thorny promontories of Africa the aromatic truth of the place lived on, the bitter unchewable herb of the past, the pith of memory.  I had set out once to store, to codify, to annotate the past before it was utterly lost—that at least was a task I had set myself.  I had failed in it (perhaps it was hopeless?)—for no sooner had I embalmed one aspect of it in words than the intrusion of new knowledge disrupted the frame of reference, everything flew asunder, only to reassemble again in unforeseen, unpredictable patterns. . . .
—Lawrence Durrell, Clea

image:  vintage postcard, Rome

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