Wednesday, May 30, 2012

8) Other Memories

When still a ten year old boy I once pocketed a rock from inside the great pyramid of Giza. The size of a robin's egg, smooth and hard and marble-like, I had it well into my 30's. I loved the idea that it came from a period long before Jesus, that it came from Egypt, that it came from somewhere else. Even in my 50's, when on a visit in England, I recall retaining that same sense of wonder at the nature of somewhere else; I plucked up grass and smelt it, my first real contact with earth back in a foreign land. Somehow wearing shoes everywhere and not so much as touching the vegetation feels like one is not really there at all. I think that's how I feel about Sydney, now, as I fly here goodness knows how many thousands of feet up in the sky across the great Byte of Oz, having spent from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Sydney, and hardly smelling the outside air much at all. We are often above it all. The soles of our feet are elevated on shoes. The clothes we wear protect us from surfaces we sit on; our touch is a great deal done to the manufactured products of man. Rubbing the soil between ones fingers, now there's an atavistic thing yet to do! Does an owl in its wisdom not have to touch the ground too? Collections of things natural was my bent for quite a long while. I retained rock-bits from places divergent as Brighton Beach, Orkney, Quebec, Montserrat, Cairo, and Spain. I could go on, but the idea here is not to impress nor to provide you with travel history, as much as to say that seeing the grass out of the window alongside the runway as my flight took off this afternoon gave me a sense of just how ubiquitous grass is all over the world, how similar the cells that go to make up the whole of everything really are. Yes, a koala bear is not the same as a moose, and tigers and bears do not live naturally in South Africa, but it is an essence of being of which I speak. It is the fact that it all exists, and that the rocks I once had have now been lost among rocks in altogether different locations, and I doubt that anyone, finding them, would say, hello, here's a strange one! A strange one is a bit in the sense of being here. That no food is served on a four and a half hour flight, unless you buy, is strange. That a brand new Virgin aircraft is up in the air with us having had to wait for a part and now without having some TVs working is strange. That accents around me are so stringently Stralian is strange. That a landmass below me appears so vastly uncultivated, even compared to Canada, is strange. But that we all are people just doing our thing is not really strange at all. Deus attends us. We are creatures in constant search of the new. We connect the dots, find that we've done Paris and Rome and London, and now want Copenhagen or Berlin. We want more and more. Is it sacrilegious of me to admit that it is not necessary for me to see Ayers Rock, nor even Perth itself should circumstances not bring it about? I fly to see my Lady Dulcinea, she who came to my wedding as my Matron of Honor. Now, at 90 years old, this very Dulcinea to the quixotic in me deserves my attentions. This side trip before seeing Simon back in Sydney is necessary; one has only so much time left. And when taken by taxi from the airport to Nancy's Flinds Cottage, an hour or so north of Perth, we shall likely not have the ability nor conveyance enough easily to go gadding about. She certainly cannot push me. I envisage long conversations over tea and lunch and dinner, and going through photo albums of her rich life, and reminiscing about the fantastic past she has led. An older brother sired by August Rodin. A twin brother caught and shot in the great escape. No, it is not stones I go now to collect, not things, but other memories.

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