Saturday, August 4, 2007

Kellogg in My Blood: Sunday Scribblings

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is the word "decision". For other reflection on this topic, go here.

I live in Eugene, Oregon.

In the summers I come to my hometown, Kellogg, Idaho and visit/live with my sister, Silver Valley Girl, and my mom and spend as much time as possible with InlandEmpireGirl, who lives on Lake Roosevelt in northeast Washington.

On the face of it, that might appear to be quite a decision, leaving the place I live and my wife and stepchildren to spend time with family and my friends in North Idaho.

But, about fifty years ago I started making the decision to come here in the summers. In fact, what appears to be a regular decision to come here, may not really be a decision at all.

Fifty years ago, I was in the preschool Sunday School class at the United Methodist Church and I started to make friends, including Scott Stuart, one of my best friends in North Idaho. Later, in kindergarten, I made more friends and even then, at such a young age, I began to care about these friends: Scott, Kenton, Roger, Denice, Valerie, and a host of others.

My feelings for these friends began to attach themselves to streets and buildings and houses and the general landscape of Kellogg.

Likewise, I began, at this young age, to realize that home, with my family, was a secure place. Sure, it was loud and the houses were small and, at times, it was tense, but it was also a place of generosity, popcorn, pot roast, a predictable vacation to Orofino every summer, Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons, Lost in Space, Perry Mason, and Marcus Welby, MD.

It was a place of televised baseball, football, and basketball games, of the Wide World of Sports, the World Series, Idaho Vandal games on the radio, of hating the Washington State Cougars, loving USC, and hating Notre Dame. It was the 49ers' John Brodie, deep respect for Vince Lombardi, and rabid love for the Boston Celtics.

I loved all of this. As I grew older, friends became baseball and basketball teammates, fellow golfers, fellow Boy Scouts, brothers in DeMolay; they became fellow musicians in high school band and chorus, fellow youth group members, fellows in harmless shenanigans. I began going to dances and songs like "The Letter" and "Hey Jude" and "Crimson and Clover" bonded with the smell of perfume, with holding a girl in my arms in a slow dance and making butcher paper posters and hanging streamers to decorate Kellogg Country Club or the high school cafeteria for proms or the Sadie Hawkins dance.

Even the heartbreak stuck and became a sweet suffering, wondering if I've ever felt suffering as intensely as I did in Kellogg at the loss of a girlfriend or the stupid decisions to move on from one girlfriend to another, when I left a wonderful girl for a girl who was ultimately cold.

The bond with Kellogg deepened as I went to work at the Zinc Plant. Suddenly I was a part of the industry and the work force that made our town possible. It was awful work in a hellish environment, but being in that plant with other men working in the face of danger, sweating, cussing, complaining, helping each other out, feeling respect that we were all in it together, deepened my sense of being a part of a world beyond my individual person.

I left Kellogg. I pursued my studies. I landed a terrific teaching position at Lane Community College.

But no day passes without me talking about Kellogg, thinking back to what I experienced and experience here, wishing I were here with my friends and family, walking the familiar streets, enjoying reunions with former teachers and life long friends, strengthening old friendships.

So, is love of place a decision? Is feeling pulled back to that place a decision? Is being where I can speak freely, feel deep comfort with those around me, know the demands of hard labor and bodily injury a decision?

Is it really a decision I make every summer to come back here?

I don't think so. Something more powerful than choice, more powerful than deliberation, more compelling thn decision draws me back to Kellogg, Idaho, draws me back at Christmas time, draws me back during spring break, draws me back for the summers.

Decisions, of course, matter. But, it's vital that we recognize that we are pulled to certain people and certain places that render choice and decisions irrelevant.

This irresistible force of Kellogg, Idaho is in my blood. I don't make a decision about whether my blood will circulate. I don't make a decision that my blood will bring life to my organs and my limbs and my extremities.

Likewise, it's not my decision that my life is vitalized by all that Kellogg embodies for me.

It's in my blood.

It's bigger than choice.

It's deeper than decision.


Jennifer said...

I think it was a difficult decision for you to leave such a place! Ah, we left our hometown and came back and left and came back and left...well you get the picture...LOL Hopefully we'll stay for awhile.
PS. You really dated yourself in this post...LOL Not a bad thing!
By the dances and TV shows give it away...nudge nudge...just teasin'

myrtle beached whale said...

Kellogg is in my blood too but the doctor said that heavy metal poisoning is not as bad as it used to be.

seenthatbefore said...

Now that was funny Myrtle. Just think of how much you got playing baseball on what RP has uniquely coined as Astrodirt! Not to mention the 'refreshing' breeze filtering from the S-SW across the settling ponds (site of the soon to be world class golf resort) towards the field. Oh, and 'runnin bases' when the air was a 'little heavy'. Loved every minute of it though! And it was great insight by RP.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Great insight. I think we are all drawn to the people and places that shaped our lives.

Inland Empire Girl said...

I agree with you that love of place is not a decision. What I do see with many people is a denial in recognizing that force of a place that is pulling them. Ultimately they have made a decision and oftentimes look back with regret. Hopefully your well articulated words will reach them.