Location, Location, Location

I love it when I have an evening out with my favorite date and I wake up the next day still loving the night before. Last night we had an Alameda evening par excellence. Although we have been island dwellers for three years now and we lovelovelove living here, I don’t feel very well-connected to the community. For starters, I may be the only 40-something year old married woman living on the island who doesn’t have children. Maybe there are one or two others, but we haven’t met.

When I started this blog thing, one of my goals was to connect with other writers. As it is oft said, writing is a solo endeavor and yet I like interacting with people, leaving the house and bumping into familiar faces at the produce stand, being challenged by new ideas while conversing over a watermelon/feta/mint salad. In that sense of writerly friend-seeking I got a little brave; I told one of my favorite bloggers I liked her writing. Gasp! Last night I got to meet her in person. Delightful!

Alice Lewis writes a weekly blog for Alameda Patch. Google her; she comes right up. She’s a lovely story-teller and she’s not afraid to tell the story where she is the comedic main character, to charming effect. She’s a longterm local and connected to local talent by marriage and blood. As a result of one of her recent blogs, we caught a show at the High Street Station last night. Her future son-in-law opened and her nephew-in-law (is that even a thing?), Mike Gibbons played a three-hour set. He should get an artistic endurance award at the very least! The music was so great that three hours passed too quickly and I spent all my money on three CDs and a tee-shirt. Actually I spent some of my date’s money, too. Thanks, babe.

Check this singer out: http://mikegibbons.net/

 

 

Listening to Mike’s songs last night, several of them could only have been written by a Californian. They beat with the pulse of this place in an authentic, intrinsic way.  I felt a pang of homesickness for the very place where I was sitting. Beautiful.

I have a deep and abiding love of the west coast, my chosen home. Better yet, I’m not alone here. My brother Chris moved here six months after I did, fresh out of college. He met and married Cedony, a California desert girl who turns out to be one of my favorite people in the world. And then they got busy having sons who are two of the smartest, cutest, most charming and delightful boys on the planet. I say this as a completely neutral, unbiased observer, of course. I met Michael, my favorite husband, in San Francisco, despite his roots in the Chicago-area. Our little two-family cluster in the west pulls together a wide swath of this big country.

But here’s the thing, when you are born in Maine, to parents whose families have lived in Maine for generations, perhaps even preceding the state’s statehood, that is some serious pull.

When I return to Maine, I am home. I can’t and wouldn’t deny that I have lived much of my life elsewhere, but my roots are as deeply wound around the graves of my ancestors buried in Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford and Sangerville as any Maine-born person’s roots could be. But, I am also “from away.” There is palpable tension in being an outsider in this environment, a place where most of my people don’t aspire to leave.

Last summer I visited Maine. I found some long-lost cousins on my Dad’s side of the family, who I am enjoying getting to know. I re-visited the cemetery where Dad is buried for the first time since he died in 1993. I knew that there was a family plot, that he was buried near his parents and at least one of his brothers. What I didn’t know was that his parents’ extended families were also buried there. It was an old country cemetery full of names that I carry in my heart.

Here’s where this post all comes together: one of Mike’s songs nailed an ongoing conundrum of mine. Where will I have these old bones put when my spirit moves on without them? In his song Kilamanjaro, a father’s last request was that his son scatter his ashes from the top of the mountain, insuring that the boy would make the climb.

Two locations and two sets of nephew/nieces….Hmmm. Is it a law that ones ashes have to be deposited in one spot? I think not. Perhaps I could leverage my influence over my youngest nephews and get them to take my ashes to the family cemetery so beautifully located in the woods of Maine. It is possible that I could convince our Illinois nephews and niece to come sprinkle some ashes in a beloved west coast location. In this way, my remains could be where my heart longs to be and maybe the next generation will come to love these places in a special way, too.

I’m not certain how I got here from having had a delightful Alameda evening. Maybe it’s because we’ll have a blue moon in August and it’s causing a special sort of lunacy related to blogging. Let’s go with that.

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8 thoughts on “Location, Location, Location

  1. Loved the bit about the watermelon/feta/mint salad…Isn’t it replenishing to connect with a like minded soul? 🙂 Enjoyed!

  2. Thanks Blaze! I really enjoyed chatting with you and feel really honored that you took the endurance challenge with me for those three hours and came to such interesting conclusions!
    I’d like to add onto the story about my friend and his dad, which you so articulately recounted. The boy, (who is in his 30’s now), has a plan for his remains that actually sounds much like your own developing plan.
    He’s told me that he plans on dividing and distributing his cremated ashes among his closest friends and family, with distinctive places of ash dispersal written up for each friend/family member, dependent on places of significance for each relationship. Having grown up moving around a lot, I can also relate to this type of approach.
    On a more bizarre note, I just read this SF gate article the other day regarding these new businesses that are emerging offering some pretty crazy alternatives to traditional burial or cremation–namely LCD tombstones and another company that makes diamonds out of your loved ones ashes. Another allows people to write emails to be posthumously delivered to loved ones at intervals and potentially for years after death–putting the ”fun” in ”funeral”. Oh my….Good luck. We certainly have an array of options laid out before us!
    All the best Blaze–I hope to cross paths with you again soon!
    Mike
    http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Cremation-Ashes-to-diamonds-or-moon-dust-3743943.php

  3. So great to meet you, Blaze! And because I wanted to comment, I now have a WordPress blog domaine. Might need some advice, though. Right now it’s a big black hole…
    Thank you for coming to the show, and for writing about it. xoxox

    • Alice, thanks for making such a commitment to comment! It took me a little while to get the hang of WordPress, but it usually works out ok. Happy to provide help with your account, to the extent that I am able!

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