Friday, May 14, 2010
#98 – SOMETHING THAT IS LIKE SOMETHING
Standing there as if suspended in time, there in cool night air on the Killington Road with its touristy businesses, like that faux alpine place with bad food and stuffed heads of murdered animals – though I will have to get back for my friends think I have only gone to the men’s room. But I am standing under a clear sky, stars such as I never see in the cities I live in, a crescent moon in a cradle configuration, the scent of pine and other growing things in crisp clear air, which has winter in it already though we are in August, air that is filled with memory – including, if I search, memories of other mountain places, lonely Kinabalu in northern Borneo, the scruffy Julian Alps in Slovenia, the strangely refreshing Taurus mountains rising out of the dust of Anatolia – places where I have had moments breathing in something like such air.
This unique air that members of the old guard over in the summer communities of the White Mountains said was just like Switzerland – which to a point it was but they went beyond that point and said that in the White Mountains you could just as well be in Switzerland, these stark granite mountains with their avalanche scars and ski trail scars rising out of almost impossible to farm rocky farm land, most of it taken over by woods now, New Hampshire the opposite of Vermont, barely able to support agriculture, which was why it seemed so clear to me that, as outsiders had said, New Hampshire was right wing and cruel where Vermont was liberal and comforting, for New Hampshire was a place where you had to live by your wits, which meant a good deal of trickery in the name of Yankee shrewdness, trickery and lying and cruel anti-everything-except-us discrimination. This bare bones life by devious means being so admired by the old guard in the summer towns, who were mostly people who might hold jobs but were so far from the bare bones life they admired that they were also living on inherited wealth. And nothing in the White Mountains was tidy and cared for like the protected, also wild but basically man-made, landscapes in Switzerland.
Those friends of my grandparents. Those peers of my parents. And what about my own peers, the ones who were young over in the White Mountains when I was young there too, they had seemed so different, but from a distance I heard about people my age who went back, the only change from past generations being that those in mine tended to live in their winterized summer places all year round now that they had found they were not suited to the outside world.
This air. My youth. I see lonely headlights, a car coming down Killington, which strangely seems to mean hope. It has only recently occurred to me that though I have by this point lived in so many distant parts of the world it has always been in cities, never in countryside – maybe a stilt house on a tropical river but a river in Bangkok, maybe a little island-style white-washed house reached by old hillside paths, but that house only being like an island house for it was right in the middle of the old part of Athens. These and all the other places – from awful Beirut to even worse Luanda – much better Havana to much better Cairo. All of them cities. Why just cities?
The thought oozes in that maybe it is fear.
What was I afraid of?
My only experience with living in countryside was in childhood.
Here I am, I think, out here on the Killington Road just to breath the air, here I am moving back and back in time. Like something was lost back then, and for the first time since very young I am in countryside again – like I have moved back in time. Like a second chance.