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Thursday
Sep032009

Need to Write

Walter With Flowers

Image by sgtret via Flickr

(The piece below was written for a now dead blog. It was written nine years ago, before I did get to go to Alaska and the Yukon.**)

As with most Bloggers, this need to write often accompanies a lack of subject.---

We lead our ordinary lives in very ordinary ways and think most, if not all of it, to be so mundane as to be of no interest to the reading public. Then you visit places considered exotic to us and find it all to be totally amazing.

Stay a few weeks, hang out in cafes with the locals, become adopted by them as an honorary paison, sit and dis the tourists, eventually you find what was exotic when you arrived is now commonplace.

In Morocco, this happened to me in a short time. My high school French became the local patois, the small amount of Arabic I have picked up in my professional life assumed the local accent and jargon. I was soon sitting alone in the cafe, ordering food in a combined French and Arabic the locals speak.

Then we returned to the US via JFK. There the locals seemed exotic. Well, to speak to the truth, in NYC, most locals are. Our cab driver wore a deep red turban, the man who served us breakfast was from Athens, the bell boy from Azerbaijan, and the hotel clerk from Brazil. All tried and true New Yorkers.

Back in Boston, it took a while to start saying things like wicked and cah  without feeling out of place. So, no matter where I have lived, or how soon it took me to adapt, eventually, it all became mundane and uninteresting, to a degree, for me. Ergo, being the center of the known universe and all, it must be the same for anyone reading anything I’ve ever written.

To make a list of places I have lived for more that six months at time: New Jersey, New York, South and then North Carolina, Southern California, Central Park, Northern California, Vermont and Massachusetts. The farthest east, of Boston that is, I have been is Morocco. The farthest west, from the same point, is Thailand. The furthest north I have ever been is Nova Scotia** and the furthest south is Barbados.

As I look at a globe, there is still a lot of real estate for me to cover to be considered a sophisticated world traveler. I want to go to Tierra del Fuego and Alaska, I want to visit St. Petersburg and Bombay. That should take care of most of the real estate I need to see and say, ’‘I’ve been.‘‘

Alaska is the only state of The Union I have not visited. I have been to Canada many times, but never further north, on the West Coast than the island of Victoria and the city of Vancouver. (Vancouver is much like NYC, exotic by its population alone. It is certainly not Toronto.)

So, Alaska is top on the list. I have seen the Lonely Planet, aka Trekkers, show on Alaska, even know the creatures I despise most on this planet live there in abundance. I still want to visit.

In the house in which I now live and own, reside 8 people. Three are family and five are extended guests. One is from pre-Castro Cuba by way of Mexico. Two others are adopted from Cambodia and Vietnam. The last not ‘from’ calls Brazil her home. The last of the five is exotic only in that he grew up in Queens, a hinterland of NYC to Manhattanites.

I suppose there could be something interesting to write about them. The guest who just left called Kenya her home. There are stories there, but I would be speaking out of turn to tell them.

The late father of my oldest friend was from a part of northeastern Europe that over the past 200 years has been part of Poland, Germany, Austria, Russia and Poland and Germany, and Russia, etc. He joined a freighter in Riga, jumped overboard in Hackensack, swam to Ellis Island and got in line with legitimate immigrants, was given a new name and sent to Hoboken for a train ride out west. He got on the wrong train and ended up in Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station.

For some strange reason, being a stranger in a strange land, he thought Pennsylvania Station was in Pennsylvania. He was not aware of the American habit of naming places for where they are going rather than for where they are.

In Manhattan, he met a woman from Montreal. They married and had two sons. He became a book seller, trader, collector while his wife worked in the Garment Trade. When he died, leaving her with two school aged sons, she moved up in the union hierarchy. She was a saint and was considered so highly, not only by me, but her neighbors that, on her passing, the street upon which she lived for sixty some odd years was named in her honor.

Now that’s interesting. I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, drive to work, work, drive home, eat dinner, watch TV, read the news on line and go to bed, if needed, repeat. I go to church on Sunday and pay my taxes. I could go Walter Mitty and invent exotic corners to this life, but in truth it is about as ordinary as one can imagine.

Nothing I did up to around thirty-five could be considered ordinary. It took me three years of extensive physical therapy to recover from the first thirty five, or so, years. Since then, I have done all I can to be as ordinary as possible. It must be said, I am being quite successful in my ordinariness.

For those not born into it, there is extensive work involved.

My aging fingers are beginning to hurt. I think we’ll make this chapter one and be done with it.
Don’t hold your breath for chapter two. I will do my best to produce it, but you can just do so much with so little.
-30-

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