Place and Belonging

photo (9)

8 September 2014
6:12 pm

T. —

Three things:

  1. I’ve learned that Bloom is exceptional at owning her place. She claimed the bed this morning because it was prime “pigeon-watching” real estate. She sits politely, pretends to be afraid, while we blow up the air mattress for guests. And as soon as we make it up with sheets, blankets, pillows, all the accoutrements of comfort — she claims that too. She was unafraid all along. I wish I could be so in my own space as she is.
  2. I’ve learned that every errand is a journey. I’ve learned how little I know of the outskirts of my city. How little I know of the character and the backstory of the places I’ve lived. How I’ve gotten by on a currency of “present time” rather than history or context. 
  3. I’ve learned that all rules are made to be bent. I asked Andrew: How much could I budget to buy books this weekend in Amsterdam? You know, at the book market? There is one book market I’m thinking of in particular. It’s in a tunnel. Or underneath a bridge. Over by the university. It’s where Andrew found me a beautiful old copy of Peter Pan, and a book of Dutch children’s stories, translated into English. It’s where I found my big beautiful paperback of John Steinbeck’s letters. He said, I think the key word is: budget. If you make a budget before we leave, you can buy books. I will be honest with my budget. I don’t want to break my rule completely, because my rule was made to protect these neglected books in my home, to help me clear out my space, to give me a reading project to focus on. I want to be honest with myself: I am only bending rules because this is Amsterdam we’re talking about. Amsterdam is the exception.

We’re going to Amsterdam this weekend, in case I forgot to tell you. I’m insanely ready to be there, and a little hesitant to be back. It makes me think of what John Steinbeck writes about Paris:

Before very long I must go away, first to Italy and to Greece and then to New York. But I strongly suspect that the elastic string of Paris is tied to me and that for all my life I will not visit Paris. It is other places I will be visiting, while Paris will be a very special home to me.

– from One American in Paris (Thirteenth Article) by John Steinbeck

One question I still have: where is to be my next home? What type of person will I become within its walls?



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