Years ago I read a book (I think it was Amnesia by Douglas Cooper) that inspired the way I think about place. I especially remember one passage that suggested every physical place holds the memory of the people, objects, events and emotions that have ever filled it.
I can think of many places where this rings true for me. The apartment my grandmother lived in most of my life has long been demolished (“little boxes…”) but when I drive down the old street I feel strongly the spirit of that space.
The neighbourhood I work in has evolved over the years – it used to be Middlegate and now it’s called “Highgate” to reflect its elevated status – but the spirit of the old 1970s bowling alley hangout still seeps through the sidewalk cracks here and there.
Driving past an old east Vancouver park that was updated years ago I think of the welded steel-pipe rocketship that transformed the space for my own childhood – how many other children travelled with it to imaginary places?
I think about visiting my husbands Nonna and her hundreds of years old Italian stone house. How many layers of history are built up there, or in the back alleys of Venice or the mountains of Switzerland?
Thinking about the places that have meant something to me, and the people who make and occupy those spaces, has transformed the seed of that idea of place. I am imagining that every physical place I have passed through, lingered in, been inspired or influenced by has left an impression on me somehow.
As much as the places are layers of emotion and experience, I am a patchwork of places. Each piece has been influenced by people and events – my whos and wheres are wrapped up in eachother and without them I wouldn’t be me…
Until I was 9 or so I moved quite often with my family. I was used to changing places and carried a sense of wanderlust with me as I grew into myself. I left home (and changed cities) at 17, and continued to move from place to place for more than ten years. My grandmother declared me the “moving-est girl”, and refused to keep updating my status in her address book…
Ironically, although I was voted “most likely to travel the farthest” at the end of high school, my collection of places has circled back on itself. Every day, sometimes more than once, I drive past several of my former schools and many of the other places I have lived, worked, and played…
In some cases the places have multiple layers of memory. The childhood/school years/adult versions of myself that echo through the places I pass through every day remind me how the layers of life and experience of place have brought texture to my now. Without the time spent in each of those places (even the painfully difficult ones) I wouldn’t have a complete picture today.
As my path continues to wander and wind, I know the places I have been will always hold a piece of me – I have left a layer of love and learning on my way. And as I go, I add the love and learning left by others to my own …
2 thoughts on “Pieces (Places)…”
I laugh over the Bami comment. I lived in only two places until I was 19. I recently counted them all and refelcted on them, wow. “it was like I was hell bent for an election” as Bami would say. 20 more so far.
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I remember her saying “three moves is worse than a fire” – I think of that especially whenever I wonder “whatever happened to that….”? So many things come and go as we move through daily life, but the way we connect and affect others can be so lasting. If you drew a line on a map from place to place as you moved, what kind of picture would it make?
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