I didn’t read it right away, so it had to wait a bit more. And then, earlier this week I pulled it from my bookshelf and started reading.
It’s part memoir, part essay collection, part poetry (I didn’t know he wrote poetry) and part speculation. He begins talking about houses, for it is often houses that we think of when someone asks about home. And he says that the older he gets (he just turned 85 last month, so this was written when he was 70), the more he thinks about home, the more he thinks about the people who inhabited his childhood, and the more defined his memories of childhood become.
He understands what’s happening, of course. The older one gets, the more one considers eternal things, and that the home of our childhood (assuming it was happy) and the memories associated with it (assuming they were good) become a representation of our eternal home, and that is what we are truly longing for.
Not too long ago, my wife asked me if I found myself thinking more about my hometown of New Orleans, and, surprised since I hadn’t said anything about it, I nodded. “”I could tell,” she said.
The New Orleans I grew up in is quite a bit different from what the typical tourist sees. I lived in a suburb, and it looked as American as any place else. There were stretches of woods with paths well worn by the neighborhood kids. And kids ruled – this was the era when the Baby Boom became obvious; Halloween in my neighborhood went on for hours, with hundreds and hundreds of children running door to door.
I’m thinking more about home, and my childhood, and my parents, especially my father.
In addition to this thinking about home, I’m developing an interest, a growing interest, in literature, the literature I was introduced to in high school and college. The poetry I’ve been reading is part of this interest. Sitting on the shelf above my computer as I type this are several books waiting to be read: The Selected Poems of Robert Penn Warren, The Poetry of Robert Frost, A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman, Poems and Prose of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a novel by Carlos Fuentes and two by Dickens – all waiting to be read.
And lately, I’ve been reading the Book of Common Prayer, a reprint of the 1928 edition.
And I know what I’m doing, and I know what this interest is, and what I’m developing a passion for.
And it’s language and literature and the beauty of it all when it’s beautiful and the ugliness when it’s not.