Italy, Idaho, and home

A long hiatus.

It’s been a fascinating summer — one of the kind that seems to exist only in dreams. First, Italy with my family, then back out to Nez Perce country in eastern Oregon and Idaho by myself.

Like many such experiences, these are too close and too complex to unpack easily. I can say without hesitation that it is a long emotional — not to mention, cultural — stretch between Italy and Idaho. But now I’m home and having to put a shape to the memories.

There was a poignancy to all of this, because, years ago, before I went into writing, I spent time living in Tuscany studying sculpture. It was a different time and a different life. To suddenly be thrust back into that, struggling with the language, living the lights and colors and smells and sounds of Italy, and walking the same streets that I walked thirty years ago, but with new eyes and a different step, was as impenetrable as a dream. It was like being transported to another time in your life but being a different person.

Then, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and home. 4500 miles of solitary driving, living once more in the world of memory and imagination, but the memory being one of a people not my own (the Nez Perce) and the imagination being a recreation of an event that I personally never experienced.

The end result was a life that seems as much observed and remembered as lived, and I don’t even know what that means. All I know is that my life seems more real on the margins of imagination and memory than it does in the day to day. This will change, and my hope is that the change will be one of expansion to include all these new dimensions, and not a diminution back to the small affairs of the day. A writer must have large spaces in which to operate, but must also keep a close eye to the details. Right now, I’m just spinning.

So, anyway, I’m here. Nik and Louise are in Boston for the democratic convention — she is leading a student group for an organization called “The Washington Center,” so I’m home with two cats and a dog and a manuscript and the administrative business of daily affairs. I’ll write more as I get my sea llegs under me. But, for now, know that I’m back and will be ramping up my blog entries as soon as my mind settles. It has been a rare summer, unlike any I’ve ever known, and full of privilege for which I am humbly thankful.

I hope all of you, in your own ways, have had a summer of growth and discovery. We surely live in interesting times.

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