Cities and Memory #5 (from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino)
"In Maurilia, the traveler is invited to visit the city and, at the same time, to examine old postcards that show as it used to be: the same identical square with a hen in the place of the bus station, a bandstand in the place of the overpass, two young ladies with white parasols in the place of munitions factory. If the traveler does not wish to disappoint the inhabitants, he must praise the postcard city and prefer it to the present one, though he must be careful to contain his regret at the changes within definite limits; admitting that the magnificence and prosperity of the metropolis Maurilia, when compared to the old, provincial Maurilia, cannto compensate for a certain lost grace, which, however, can be appreciated only now in the old postcards, whereas before, when that provincial Maurilia was before one's eyes, one saw absolutely nothing graceful and would see it even less today, if Maurilia had remained unchanged; and in any case the metropolis has the added attraction that, through wat it has become, one can look back with nostalgia at what it was."
An absolutely stunning paragraph brought to my attention by one of my new teachers here in Richmond. Richmond, which felt so awkward and awful, like an ill-fitting shoe, when I first came here over a month ago now. Richmond, which now feels pretty okay, even though it's been raining for the past twenty-four hours. Actually such gloom might be the perfect thing for not making me feel like a shut-in as I stay home most of the weekend, reading and writing.
Had my first short story workshopped this week. So intense! I came home and fell asleep right away--couldn't do what I always did in San Francisco and read everyone's comments on the train ride home, since I bike home here and I was too, too tired.
Our first real party in my house last night. It was actually thrown by my roommate's girlfriend to raise $$ for a great cause. Amazing though (even if I was in pajamas and avoiding direct contact with any new people) to have the house full of bodies and warm food and voices. After they left sipped overly sweet wine (like nectar) out on the porch, happily talked about nothing, about the past, and watched the incredible lightnight shock the whole world around us almost as bright as day and listened to a rumble of thunder longer than I've ever heard. Thunder is just clouds bumping into each other, right?
(The picture at the top of this post was taken in Richmond near 1900. The young boy front and center is a newsboy, who lied at first when asked his age. He said eight first and, when prodded, went down to six.)