Shifting homes is in my blood. We had traded out domiciles 19 times by the time I finished college. I’ve added on another 16 places since.
I bring this up with pride, but also with consternation. I wish I knew a place fully, decade after decade; felt a town or city deep in my bones. I worry about my inability to connect with the harsh reality of being tied to an apartment or house year in and year out, Might I be being disallowed some of the basics of true empathy?
Guilty? I guess. Privileged? In many ways, yes.
I make up for the fleeting me within by stretching my imagination as best I can. Maybe that’s why my wife, my entire family, laughs at the way I can imagine living anywhere. Suburbs of Omaha? Been there in my mind. The crumbling rooms that overlook the ghats of Varanasi? I spent a millennium in the two nights I was there.
The first time I went to Storrs, Connecticut, I covered and then bobbed my head. My parents had told me I was conceived on campus there, when my father was getting his master’s degree at the university. I couldn’t remember anything.
I sleep deep. All these places all fill my dreams. They cloud my view of what is at any moment, be I on a train hurtling through Belgium or in a car climbing Echo Notch, or while down on one knee at a corner in sight of our state’s Capitol building, as I was this past week.
As Bob Dylan said in one of his surprise releases of recent months: I contain multitudes.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.