Saturday, February 9, 2008

Home: Where the Heart Often Isn't, but the Mind Is

1. Seen through the proper lens, a landscape or venue has a personality that influences the individuals who live therein.

2. Thus landscape becomes the unseen character in a story.

3. Thus setting is as important in a story as the characters who participate in it.

4. Sometimes, in stories, landscape is the winner.

5. The relationship we have with our place of origin is in many ways like the relationship we have/had with our parents. The relationship with our place of origin may shape our personality ore than we suspect. Thus we should begin suspecting.

6. There is an imaginary line drawn across our childhood in which many of us find momentary comfort in wishing for a set of parents different from one's own. This line is usually drawn when one's own parents have put some rule or practice into effect that seems entirely one-sided; their side.

7. At one time, it was possible to get scrumptuous food on the pier at Santa Monica.

8. At one time it was possible to shout imprecations at fishermen who'd returned from a full day trip, having the effect of causing them to throw the less attractive of their catch at you.

9. At one time, because of my father's perfervid interest in the relative speeds of thoroughbred horses, it was thought by many Santa Monicans that I too cared about times over a distance of, say six furlongs.

10. At one time, because of some long forgotten rule or practice put into effect by my parents, I began to consider the possibilitie of the parents of a cross-the-street friend as potential surrogates. This was largely based on the fact of the wife being a member of The Book of the Month Club and the husband being a dentist.

11. At one time, because I was there and because I had access to my sister's street car pass, I tried to imagine that Providence, RI was my place of birth. It also had to do with the fact that a particular department store on Weybosset Street sold thick slabs of milk chocolate that I found irresistable. For some time, in pursuit of this change in venue, I attempted to speak as I thought natives of Providence spoke, which resulted in my mother being convinced I had a sore throat, which meant the idignity of a meicine I found intolerable.

12. A number of things put me off the dentist and his wife, beginning with their son, whom I came to consider a buffoon, and ending with my being invited to dinner, which was so seriously at odds with my mother's abilities that I forswore all fantasy of venue change.

13. Having lived approximately sixty percent of my life in Santa Barbara and only vaguely wondering what I would be like if I had been born here, I am free of the love/hate I have for Santa Monica/Los Angeles and have come to a gradually evolving understanding of Santa Barbara that allows me to write about it with a greater sense of attitude than emotive diction.

14. Having spent a good deal of time devising ways to understand characters to the point of being able to write about them and not me--thank you, Virginia, my revered actor mentor--I frequently find myself picking out places where I speculate on living, wondering what such places would bring to the person I would thus be. Portions of Los Angeles hit me with some regularity. For a long time, I fancied living on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco having seen the advantages first hand because a dear friend lived on Telegraph Hill, right on the Filbert Steps. When I leared some years back that Barnaby Conrad once had a studio just off the Filbert Steps, I knew we should become friends.

15. I look lovingly at loft-like possibilities in Soledad (just north of King City) and a tad south of Salinas. Of Mice and Men begins in Soledad. There are six or eight places in Santa Barbara, one or two in Portland, and not to forget Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, as well as Eureka, and Gold Beach, a place where the Rogue River empties into the Pacific Ocean.

16. I am no doubt in a rebellious mood, avid of being off by my self when I fantasy Tuba City, Arizona and Farmington, New Mexico, or Bodfish, California. It is difficult to expand my fantasy to include decent coffee in either place, meaning some accommodation with mail orders of Chock Full o' Nuts or Bustello's, to be brewed in a Chemex.

17. Because of an enormous leap of logic, I could fantasy living in Davenport, Iowa.

18. All of these places have effect and affect on the individuals I would concoct as characters, the situations I believe I would get them into, and what I would do when I was not working.


R.L. Bourges said...

if I get started, I'll fill up your comment section. So
I go with 5-10-11-14-17. Plenty of riffing material right there.
About 11, though, I'll just say that I've always envied people with no accent (i.e; with only one) the way serial movers look on with amazement on people who've lived in the same house since they were born.
It just seems so exotic, knowing that the top of the stairs is always exactly in the same place.
Have a good Sunday in Santa Barbara. (the dog in Graulhet sends a nod to Sally.)

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt the places I've lived have shaped me as much as the chorus line of people that have marched through it as well. There have been few constants in my life, and that in and of itself will forge strengths and breed weaknesses in a person. 6 years in a small ghost town in Wyoming is the closest I came to a constant while I lived there, and now it is constant because of it's pull, forever calling me to return. It is one of those places in which small details change, but essentially the spirit of it will forever remain. It's harsh beauty can shape you and mold you. You either love it or despise it, and once you love it, it never lets you go.

I've never been many of the cities you listed, but I have been to San Francisco on several occasions. Maybe someday when I get back out that way I will look around a bit, just to see what all of the fuss is about.