Thursday, May 24, 2007

Back to the Beginning

Silver Valley Girl's Tree

Yesterday, as I was driving the rolling hills between the Tri-Cities and Ritzville, I thought back to the first post I wrote when I started this blog, here:"Kellogg is My Paris".

The farmland and tumbleweeds got me wondering why I have lost my desire to travel to Europe or other places outside of North Idaho or outside of travel to see members of The Deke's family in Chicagoland or West Point.

It's been twenty years since I last travelled outside of North America and for years I wanted to go back, I wanted to go back to England and Scotland. The Deke went to France seven years ago, but I didn't go because of the fatigue I was suffering from having had meningitis six months beforehand.

Now, if I have time to travel, I want to come here, to Kellogg. I think I'm less interested in broadening my experience and more interested in deepening what I have.

If I go to Paris or London or Copenhagen or Stockholm, places I used to want to go, it takes time away from seeing my mother and my sisters. It means time away from having a chance to see my friends here in Kellogg and finding out what's happening around the Silver Valley or from playing cards or going to Worley to play some slots.

In going to Worley or playing cards, the gambling is fun, but the real payoff is the bullshit, when we drive to Worley or when we are dealing cards and calling games. I've learned more about my friends on drives to Worley or playing poker than I ever had before and this deepens our friendships.

I also have a relationship with this place, Kellogg. I move more deeply into it when I walk Snug around the streets or take him up to the high school. I understand the spirit of what Kellogg has been to me and what it is becoming as I watch new buildings go up, listen to the construction machinery build it, and as I know Silver Valley Girl's former house is rubble.

I've never wanted to romanticize this place. My history here is so rough and the character so real that romanticizing it isn't really an option.

Kellogg is my Paris. It doesn't have the museums, art galleries, cafes, cathedrals. high cultural energy, and opportunites to see new things or to walk in a certain kind of world history.

But, world history is here. Ore was imported to the Zinc Plant from zinc mines in South America. The economy of this Valley has always relied, in part, on mineral prices which are part of a world-wide economy, not just the United States.

Many of the people I have known here were Italians and Slavs and descended from other European countries. They kept European traditions alive. Much of the character of Kellogg was shaped by the working class immigrant population here.

I always thought, when I was younger, that if I wanted to know the world, I had to get out of the Valley. To a degree that's true. But more and more I am realizing that the world is, in many ways, not where I go, but what I pay attention to.

If I get to go back to Chicago again, and do as I did last time, spend ten days or so with The Deke's brother-in-law and family, I'll probably do what I did last time. Enjoy them. I only went to the city once, to see a Bears football game. The fun part of that was not being in Chicago.

The fun part was riding with David and a fireman friend of his and drinking beer and whiskey on the train and bullshitting. The fun part was taking the train back and jumping in David's friend's truck and going to Denny's and eating pancakes and eggs and potatoes and drinking coffee and talking about the hurricane Katrina and coming back to Arlington Heights and being given a walking tour of fires they had fought in different parts of town.

I tot to know them better. The same happened at a birthday party at David's in-laws. The same happened when David and I went to a casino in Aurora and he drove me on a little history of his courtship with Muffy, his wife.

What I want from life is here in Kellogg or in other parts of the country where family lives. What I want from life happens Thanksgiving weekend when my friends come to Oregon and we spend the weekend together gambling, golfing, telling stories, laughing about the present and the past, being there for each other as we lose our mothers and fathers.

So, here I am, in Silver Valley Girl's guest room, Snug sleeping at my feet, waiting for my mom to get back from the doctor, so I can go see her, looking forward to going to Kingston and shooting the breeze with Ed, and looking forward to Saturday's drive to Lake Rooselvelt to spend time with my sisters and my mom at InlandEmpireGirl's house. I'll do the same sort of thing this summer.

I would be foolish to take time away from this to go to Paris.

10 comments:

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful post. I might steal this idea and write a post for my hometown!

John Lennon said...

Great blog as usual. I am traveling back to Spokane to visit my family next week. I'm hoping to make it up to Kellogg sometime during my visit and see my hometown.

myrtle beached whale said...

Congrats Bill,

You are the only person ever to draw a comparison between Kellogg and Paris. The only thing they have in common is they both have a river running through. Oh yeah, one more thing: they both have fine dining. Or have they closed the Sunshine Inn? They had great French Fries back in the day.

raymond pert said...

Jennifer: yes! steal away! I look forward to reading how you work with the subject!

John: I hope you can make it up to Kellogg and see the hustle and bustle with all the new construction...it's quite a scene around here

Myrtle BW: I could never figure out if I lived on the right bank or the left..if you faced Spokane I was on the right bank, but if you faced Wallace, I was on the right...the Sunshine Inn is closed and we all miss those fine tables sitting along Cameron Street for outside dining at its finest...

GreenishLady said...

I enjoyed this post so much! The people make the place and this is so well-stated in your piece. A lovely, gentle piece of writing

gautami tripathy said...

I liked reading i very much. Very well worded. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of your part of the world!

Patois said...

Your post typifies what I've found while reading this week's scribblings: most of us get what we need out of where we're living. It's nice to see that so many taking part are content where they are, be it country or town.

megan said...

Yep...you've got the answer. Find what you love & stick to it. Like striking gold.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Beautiful post, especially this line: 'But more and more I am realizing that the world is, in many ways, not where I go, but what I pay attention to.' So true.

Molly said...

Great sense of place!