Friday, August 31, 2007

Birthdays

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day of my birth.
A few other historical things happened on August 30th...Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein was born. So was Molly Ivins, famed Texan and humorist. And here's something else that happened: (quoted from The Writer's Almanac)
It was on this day in 1904 that Henry James visited the United States after living for most of his adult life in Europe. He had gone to live in Europe as a young man and hadn't seen the United States in more than 25 years. He sailed into New York Harbor on this day in 1904, and he was amazed at how modern the city had become. When he'd last seen New York, the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge had been the highest points of the city. Since then, the invention of the elevator had made it feasible to construct extraordinarily tall buildings. James wrote, "The multitudinous sky-scrapers [were] like extravagant pins in a cushion already overplanted.

But he found that the city was so different from the one he remembered that he almost didn't recognize it. When he went to find the house where he'd grown up, it was gone, having been demolished by the expanding New York University. He remembered a church being built near his house when he was a kid, but that church was gone too. New buildings were being constructed all over the city, and it seemed to James that all the new buildings were uglier than the old buildings. He began to think of America as a place where all the glorious traditions of the past were being destroyed in favor of the new. A few years later, he wrote to his sister-in-law, "Dearest Alice, I could come back to America (could be carried on a stretcher) to die — but never, never to live."


I relate with Mr. James....see, I love rock n roll, baseball, college football and corn dogs, yet sometimes I think I could do without them. Its this time of year again, when I think of living in France, and watching rugby and soccer and other things America doesn't care about.

But all that glitters and speaks French is not Gold. The quandary is as it will always be...I seem to have discovered a unique community here in this America that would be near impossible to duplicate amidst statues and pillars. Even if, as Rufus Wainwright sings, 'All the lights of Paris, play inside your iris'...sometimes the lights of Paris are unable to sustain your soul like relationship does.

1 comment:

Annie said...

"Unable to sustain your soul like relationship does." Excellent commentary on how far we've gotten away from the importance of PEOPLE and substituted happiness for affluence, going to the newest, hippest restaurant, drinking the perfect (ie: Costa Rican!) cup of coffee...
People matter. Keep relationships going, reconnect w. old friends. It warms the heart like nothing Starbucks has to offer! MISS YOU!