I look at the old photograph by my nightstand, and there is my mother and father and my three children – as children. it’s almost regal in appearance. I feel sometimes I could reach out and touch them. It’s almost as though if I turned around they would be there. They’re not of course. My father died in the mid-60’s and my mother died in the spring of ’93. But my children are thankfully moving on in real time. They are kids in the photograph, with silly grins on their faces. Well, my daughter, who was at “that” age, is not grinning.

You would notice my missing wife. I’m pretty sure she was having a nervous breakdown, which was the occasion for the visit from my parents. I’m just as sure I was the occasion for the nervous breakdown. That was almost 50 years ago. My oh my, how time flies.

Such is the power of old photographs. My breath catches in my throat. I almost slip into morning for what is no longer there, and perhaps never was – memory being the trickster that it is.

I have not been back to Corpus Christi since leaving in ’69. In my mind, I think of that waterfront scene and imagine it the way it was. Of course, it’s different now. It would be interesting to go there and see if I could find the spot where that photograph was made – in much the same way these historical re-constructionists now do on TV. I would stand in that exact spot and take a picture and then I would be sad. So, I won’t do that.

I had driven my parents and the children out to the waterfront to see the water. It’s what you do. Just being there, near the ocean, is somehow enough. Many believe it is where it all began. We are drawn to the sea and we are drawn to the mountains. We find solace there in the “everlasting” hills, the endless rhythm of the tides. We take our fill of the comforting sameness that we find in those places. A temporary relief from the shifting realities of our daily lives.

I enjoy living near the sea. Being there is like an infusion of personal power – even hope. I touch it’s waters and feel in that touch a connection with every shore, every bay, every stream that flows into the sea. There is something primal going on there. OK, that’s kind of a stretch but you know what I mean.

I have spent significant time walking in the southern Rocky Mountains, living out of my pack. I always felt I belonged there. So did everyone else who ever visited there, I suppose. But can you forgive me for thinking it was actually true? Each time I left to drive home, I felt sad, as though I were really leaving home.

Each of us, I believe, finds a place in our daily lives that offers some semblance of that sameness and dependability that we find in our retreat to the sea or mountains. Our familiar spaces. It’s why we meditate. Dream. Walk on the beach, trek in the woods or have a beer on the deck.

My special place is my little room through which I can navigate with my eyes shut. I sometimes think, “This is it!” But, I never could be successfully consistent. I often become bored with the “self” I have found and want to do something drastic, like move the furniture around. Sometimes it is not that comforting to look around your special place and realize that the cluttered self you see is indeed the cluttered self you get. Well, I’m working on it.

I was talking to CA just yesterday about moving things around in here. Desk over there, couch in the other corner. I think my couch is too big. I know my desk is. Something more modern, perhaps, that would be more representative of who I am – I think. There I go again.

Wouldn’t it be funny if we found that we did not need to run to the ocean or climb the mountains to fine tune our identity – that all it takes is to move the furniture around? I’ll let you know. Now – I’m going to need a little muscle power. Anybody want to come over and help. Wait, I’ll clarify that: anyone want to come over and actually move this stuff for me? Maybe you’ll find your “self” under my couch, cavorting with a wild herd of dust bunnies.

1 Comment

  1. David Henderson

    I love that photograph of us in Corpus. The little guy on the right is particularly cute.Give me a call and we’ll head back to Santa Fe.

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