Sunday, July 24, 2011
When I logged onto our computer earlier this week, the above illustration had become my son's desktop wallpaper. This is a cropped version of it, a scene of the underwater city of Rapture from Irrational Games' BioShock, a video game. I was startled, then ensnared by the detail and what I could imagine as the backstory for this group of swells, looking out upon, or possibly too involved to notice, their underwater world. I noticed.
With infinite detail luring me in (I cannot resist an underwater world), I thought of fantasy realms, make-believe destinations and real places that seem so remote or unattainable they might as well be fictional. In the way that words or subjects have of arriving in clumps, I let my mind roam and thought of my artist mother, who was determined to visit Spain and see the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.
She not only endured but transcended a divorce after 28 years of marriage, began a cottage business with ceramics and those ceramics sent her first to Greece and the Greek islands, then later to Spain and her dream tour of the Gaudi sites. His Casa Batllo in Barcelona may illustrate why video game alternate reality could have called him and my mother's realized dream to mind.
Two days later, in the closet plunge, I found an envelope containing photocopies of all the local obituary notices of my father's passing, sent by my step-mother. In rereading them, I was reminded of his ties to the South Pacific, where he had served during World War II. His biography gave greater detail than I remembered about his assignments. But I always knew he wanted, above everything, to see the Fiji Islands again.
Places unknown give our expectations an aura of magic; places experienced call to us with the imperfection of memory. We expand and romanticize them, assign them virtues which perhaps stretch the truth, hope to return in the quest for intangibles we fear may have been lost forever. My father did return to Fiji, with my step-mother, on their honeymoon. He never spoke to me of that trip, nor did he write of it in any of his papers I've found. Perhaps even for a man of words, his reclaiming of that place, of those life and world-changing times, was beyond explanation.
While writing this, Leon Russell was singing in the background.
My journeys have become interior. I will never miss a chance to watch Venice or Paris on screen, still allow myself temporary residence when following Donald Sutherland and the red coat he pursues or riding in the 1950s-vintage Citroen of a French noir classic. Should the means and opportunity ever materialize, I would not say no to such an adventure. Yet I have gained more than I could have hoped by exploring the inner landscape.
When I stopped being resentful of circumstances which dictated a quiet, contemplative existence, I understood that I had been delivered to my true destination. One can, I'm sure, ponder as well at distant sites as at home, but my assignment seems to be about finding my own heart and translating that into a wider knowledge.
The shores are generally sunny, each day delivers its own, varied treks. Morning reveals new paths, provides new encounters. The food doesn't vary much, but I hold the cook responsible for that. Attire is casual and surprises never fail to appear. It is a crossroads at which home and away intersect. Boredom is never an issue and I get to sleep in my own bed. I may want to design some postcards, local highlights, but I suppose, in a way, I already have. You are reading of them now. No need to say, wish you were here.