Friday, December 01, 2006

Distance, Real and Imagined

The great Jim Atwell has struck again. His most recent column has another take on last weekend's festivities at my parents' place. Much more poetic than my own version, though I don't believe James linked my mother's cuisine to proof that God exists (though he did thank God for the food).

My Grandmother (the Rock Star) is among many to receive prominent billing in Jim's piece. The Saint and my Mother both get shout-outs as well.

Though I never did fully recharge the batteries, it was great to be home.

I'm noticing, more and more, that central New York, and the places I went when I grew up, have major roles in my fiction. Boston, where I live now with the Saint and the kids, is almost nonexistent. I had an earlier post about that.

Funny how the places from our past often have a greater impact on our lives than the places in our present. I'm not one of those nostalgic types who think the past was better than the present. I mean: I am a nostalgic type, but I still prefer the present and the future to the past. Every day with the Saint and the kids is better than the day before.

Yet the places from my past have helped shape who I am right now. I know this because the places from my past are so prominent in my current project (just as they were in my first project).

The places from my present: I don't even mention them. Does that mean they've had no impact? I doubt that.

Distance is the key. Living day to day, I'm in the middle of things. Everything is immediate.

But as I move away from the past, prior places and events crystallize for me. It's like they're easier to see in the rear view mirror than they are on the road ahead. Which, of course, is impossible.

It's all about the perspective, and I get a different perspective when I go home to Cooperstown.

The people in my life are an entirely different story. They've shaped me more than the places have. The Saint most of all (and truly, Thank God for that); but my kids; my friends; my Mom; my Dad; my Stepfather; my Grandmother the Rock Star; my Grandfather after whom I'm named; Nick Alicino; Bruce Springsteen; favorite aunts, uncles and cousins.

With the people in my life, there's no distance. Does that mean there's no perspective?

My Dad and my Grandfather are as much a part of my life now as they were when they were alive, if my memories count for anything. Every time I finish a chapter on my manuscript, among my first thoughts is What would Nick think? The Saint is my first thought of the morning, my last thought at night, and, truth be told, most of my thoughts in between. Ditto the kids.

I keep all those impressions close to me. I don't need distance so I can be objective about the people in my life. I don't even need to be objective.

Sometimes, logic isn't necessary.


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