Larkin, Philip. “Church Going.” The Less Deceived. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965,
Larkin, Philip. “I Remember, I Remember.” The Less Deceived. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965.
The beginning of “Church Going” is the most fascinating. The author visits a church (not his first, nor his last) and describes what he sees and does in this latest church. There is a sense he doesn’t quite believe in the place or his unspoken reason for being there. There is a skepticism in his tone that suggests a deeper disbelief. It begins with the very first line, “Once I’m sure there’s nothing going on” [in the church] (p 28).
“I Remember, I Remember” is a little more straightforward but as equally honest. The speaker is traveling with a friend and discovers a forgotten place from childhood. Immediately, the remembering begins. My favorite line is delivered by the friend, “You look as if you wish the place in hell” (p 38). I can think of a few places in my life where I would have that look!
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter, “Poetry Pleasers” (p 189).
We have reached a compromise – or so we have been told. It’s now safe to resume packing. All systems go. 251 boxes later and rooms are starting to echo. Walls look a little more bare. Boxes are getting more difficult to fill with just one designation. Suddenly, I’m faced with the nitty gritty of moving. The stage I crankily call “crap packing.”
We have ten “zones” for box designation: living room, kitchen, dining room, upper bath, bedroom, work out room, dude room, utility room, garage & office. Nowhere in the plan is there a room called, “useless sh!t I haven’t seen in seven years” or, “I have no idea what this is but there is no way I’m parting with it.” Letters from strangers who weren’t always that strange, postcards from places I’ve never been, newspaper clippings of faded interest, road maps from before I was born, pictures of places I don’t recognize, mixed tapes from people I don’t know, buttons, beads, baubles. Bullsh!t I said I would do something with and never did. What do I do with this stuff? What won’t I do? It’s utterly amazing the things I have unearthed.
But, for all it’s craptabulousness I am unearthing priceless memories, too. The Paint the Town Red, White & Blue trip mom, sis and I took to New York after 9/11. The orphan Thanksgiving I hosted in New Jersey. Thanksgiving in Quogue with ancient finery and Don’t Touch Anything attitude. My penpal from Africa’s first letter where he states he is 16′ tall. My sister’s graduation. My graduation. My first ‘date’ with kisa. The Early Bird luncheon where I was crowned Queen of the Court. Even sad memories. A friend’s slow decline into alcoholism. Another friend’s suicide note. The journal I kept after dad died. The car accident. The divorce. The miscarriage of twins. Yet. And yet, for all the memories there is a sense of promise. Change of name. Change of address. The keeping of old friends and their letters. All these memories make up my life as it was, as it is, and how it shall be.
So for now, I crabily crap pack. With a smile.
I was silent all day yesterday because the mind was in overdrive. Funny how that is. There are some days that are stickier than others. Why is that? Why do I remember everything, every little detail, like it was yesterday? The details are stuck like flies on the fly strips of my mind. Twisting and turning, but never completely shaking loose. I can remember the color of your shirt. The way your boots were left untied. The stillness of the room when it was all over. The heavy door closing with a quiet click. The leaving.
There are four days in September that replay like a movie in my head. Anniversaries of a different kind. They pull me down, wear me out. Curiously, each year my reaction to them is a little different. Some years they are as insane as a Stanley Kubrick film – images and memories too bizarre to handle calmly. I succumb to fits of crying, fits of rage. Other years I am dispassionate and objective, surveying the scenes with a cool eye and a cold heart. It’s not that I don’t care or that I’ve forgotten what these scenes mean to me. I’m just able to turn my head from them a little easier. They can’t touch me.
This year I surrounded myself with distraction. Little Miss Socializer. The Big E with all of its glutinous overloads. Greasy food. Flashing lights. Throngs of people. Crazy carnival music. IM’ing for the first time in three years. TalkTalkTalking on the phone. Sitting down to do nothing. Still, the scenes played out – like a movie half ignored. Something flickering in the background. Even when my past came to visit me I couldn’t admit to the memories. I played dumb and talked about the breakwater, ever repeating ‘you were the only one.’ Because that was what mattered then. Matters still.
Now it’s the day after. The clouds have all blown away. Someone has removed the fly strip, thrown it away for another year. There are other memories to come, but those will be met with predictable ease. I will look them in the eye, recognition comes with a nod and then, then I move on. Strange how the mind works.