Friday, February 26, 2010

Quote of the Week: Pasts

"I am forty-five years old. By even the most conservative estimate, it has been nearly a quarter of a century since I climbed eagerly aboard this one-way rocket to Death in Adulthood and left the planet of my childhood forever in my starry wake. I know this. My grandparents, my boyhood bedroom furniture, a miniature schnauzer of admirable character named Fritz, the dazed and goofy splendor of bicentennial America: I will never see any of these or a million other things again. And yet always lurking somewhere in the back of my mind is the unshakable, even foundational knowledge -- for which certainty is too conscious a term -- that at some unspecified future date, by unspecified means, I will return to those people and to those locales. That I am going back.

No, that's false. The delusion is not really that I believe or trust that I will be returning one day to the planet of childhood; it's that the world I left behind so long ago is still there, somewhere, to be returned to; that it continues to exist, sideburns, Evel Kneivel, Spiro T. Agnew, and all, like some alternate-time-line Krypton that never exploded, just on the other side of the phantom-zone barrier that any determined superman would know how to pierce. When I watch a film or a television show from the period and see again the workingmen wearing short-sleeved shirts with neckties, or the great wide slabs of Detroit automobiles, or the blue mailboxes with the red tops, or when I happen to hear from some random radio the DeFranco Family singing "Heartbeat (It's a Love Beat)," I do not think merely, Oh, that's right, I remember that or the more pathetic I wish I could go back there again. What I feel is something more like gratitude, a sense of relief, the way you feel when you wake from a dream in which your beloved has died, and the world is grief and winter, and then you find her warm and snoring in the bed beside you."
- Michael Chabon, "Normal Time," pp.177-178 in Manhood for Amateurs

1 comment:

Chris Roberson said...

Thanks for this. I've been meaning to pick up Manhood..., and this just pushed me over the top. I know *exactly* the sensation he's talking about here.

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