Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lately I've been suffering from what I think of as Geographic Seizures. They've been going on for a few years now. All of a sudden, in my head, I have a flash of moving around a corner in Paris, or Bergerac, or London, or (more rarely) Saratoga Springs or Odense: I have the sensation of being elsewhere, someplace I have not been for some time. I'm alone alongside a building or a field. Then it's over. It feels neurological, not nostalgic. The parts of Paris that flash into my head (for instance) are never my favorite, not my usual routes through the city, but streets I walked down once or twice or maybe five times, with no particular associations. & I have no sentiment for Bergerac (or Bordeaux) at all. Quite the opposite. & they are never parts of my childhood. I am not suddenly aware of walking past George the Chili King's in Des Moines or Mac's Smoke Shop in Newton Corner. Perhaps they're mostly in foreign countries because of the shallowness of my Parisian experience: a brief cerebral and solitary transposition to a back street of Paris is enough to convey nearly everything I felt about that wonderful city, but the Des Moines of my childhood is more populated and complicated.

I'm adding a few more of the odd places I find myself: on all sorts of streets in Leipzig, a place where I have spent exactly one weekend. One particular stretch of road in Scotland, near Helensburgh, that I took several times a week last summer. No place in Norfolk, though, where I've spent two summers in the past three years. No place in Iowa. I wish I could figure out a pattern to these bits of time travel.

Am I the only one?

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