Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Long Journey Home
For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live.
I moved into this town on September 9, 2001, 2 days before the WTC came down. I often think about that, especially at this time of the year. Up until a few days before it I was surviving in a part time proofreading job at a law firm within a few blocks of the site of the catastrophe. If I had still been in NYC on that day I probably would have seen the planes crash into the buildings because I would have been waiting for the crowd from the ferry to clear so that I could go downstairs to get the subway.
I often wonder what I would have done, stand stock still in shock, or run. People were running in both directions, away in a panic or toward it to see what they could do. Or I might have been already on the subway and stuck underneath it for 12 hours or more.
I had worked for another law firm high up on the North Tower a few times and I remember the supervisor and other workers as being very nice people. They probably did not survive.
But I wasn't there. I had moved from my squalid little residential hotel room to a town in eastern Pennsylvania to set up a life for myself, temporarily. I do not like it here, and I often wish I had never left New York. But then....
I was born into an Upper Middle Class family in a New York City suburb. 4 years later my father died and soon the family plunged slowly and agonizingly into poverty. All the "nice things" my mother had from her former life were sold, piece by piece, to pay rent and to buy food. We moved continuously, each abode worse than the last one. We moved about 25 times until I was old enough to move out and take care of myself. She finally settled into a ground floor apartment that wasn't too bad. I never settled.
Having grown up without a steady home and without even a concept of home, I've never really lived at my address, and there have been many of them. I've had, so called, fixed addresses in 5 different states and the District of Columbia. I lived at some of them for a month or so and in others for years. But none of them were my home. I don't have a home. Where I live now is not my home and I can't imagine myself living here for long.
My professional life has taken me in and out of 5 different radio stations, a bunch of recording studios and upon many stages at theatres all around the Eastern part of the country from Maine to Florida. I'm a vagabond.
I am a vagabond but in my heart, in my wounded but sanguine heart, there is a home for me, my home. A beautiful home, within sight and sound of a body of water, near a cultural center, quiet and peaceful, safe and secure, clean and ample, with good people around me. I have spent my whole life, almost 70 years, hoping that some day I will find it.
But maybe I won't. Maybe I will continue to be a vagabond, with some strange, new place beckoning with promise, expectation of permanence, but offering only disappointment and another transient stopover on my journey. If so then look for me in my writings, because that's where I live.
Dana Bate - Vagabond Journeys
Never Give Up