Saturday, February 6, 2010

Not there, or, As imperceptibly as grief, our summer slipped away.

Everyone knows Gertrude Stein's mot about Oakland:  "There is no there there."  She had been living in Paris and perhaps felt that there WAS some "there" in Paris.  I love Paris, but it no longer seems like home to me.  Ditto for Los Angeles.  And ditto for my current so-called home--Winona, MN.  Old age is beginning to teach me that, in the end (or, at least, in the almost end), there isn't very much "there" anywhere.

We keep looking for thereness throughout our lives and I think, when we are in our early productive years, we often feel that we have arrived at such a place or state. What is thereness?  A sense of belonging, a sense of being embraced by familiar and unchanging structures, a comfortable stability (both physical and psychological) where everything just "is" and where nothing will ever be anything else.


But there always slips away into not there.  When we say that something is "neither here nor there," we suggest that this particular topic is, in fact, irrelevant, meaningless, beside the point.

I guess that's what I mean when I say that, in my old age, I can't find much "there" in anything.  I am neither here nor there.  Every yearned-for certitude seems to elude me; every destination fails to satisfy--take a picture, buy a souvenir, but then move on to the next "there."

I'm conflicted, of course.  I'd like to feel that I'm a body at rest--in a genuine "there."  But I guess the ultimate "there" is the cemetery--where one is truly at rest.  And, all things considered, at the present time, I'd rather be in Oakland.

No there there?  Maybe that's a good thing.

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