Powerful places and odd events

As some of you may know, my dissertation dealt with the lived experience of being in a place. I have always been a deeply “platial” person, in the sense that I get attached to places and attach meanings to places in a very conscious way. Over the past couple of days I have had the opportunity to experience a series of roads — which one might normally think of as neutral conduits that serve merely to take us from one place to another — as powerful, evocative places in their own right. I now know that certain road signs have the ability to reduce me to a blithering idiot right in the moment of barreling down the highway at high speed, simply because they refer to places that were special to Kurt and me and to which we repeatedly returned.

Thinking about this, I realized that over the past three months I have begun to acclimate to the idea of Port Angeles without Kurt. I have nearly nine years worth of experience of Port Angeles with Kurt, and now I am beginning to create new layers of experience of Port Angeles after Kurt. But while traveling, I have been hit with an ongoing series of shocks, and it’s as if I have to keep getting used to the idea that he’s not here with me, over and over again. It’s like the inverse of that cliche zen phrase: not “wherever you go, there you are,” but “wherever I go, you’re still not there.”

I had time this morning and took the opportunity to stop and take a few photos of my car in a place that is highly evocative not only for Kurt and me, but for many people. The Porsche people reading this will know exactly where I took this photo and why it’s such a powerful place. Following it is another photo that I took in that same spot nearly 20 years ago, this one showing a borrowed Porsche that was the beginning of a lasting friendship with the person who loaned us that car. It looks like the tree is a little bigger now.

Tonight I’m in a place with almost too many layers of meaning to bear, but it’s oddly different than I’ve ever seen it before. Over the past couple of days there have been a series of thunderstorms here where it “never” rains, complete with lightning-caused palm tree fires early this morning. This afternoon I stood outside in the rain listening to the thunder echoing around the valley.

I went to a promotional event for the half marathon that I’m running on New Year’s Eve, which by amazing coincidence just happened to be scheduled for tonight, here. Josh Cox was there as the celebrity atraction. I had no clue who he was but now Google has informed me that earlier this year he set the US record for 50k (31.1 miles) and was just 8 seconds off the world record for that distance. He expects to break that world record within the next year. We were all invited to go out for a “fun run” with Josh, but I was too tired to even think about running. I read later that he led people on a 5k run at a “fun, easy” 8 minute pace. I’m slow and happy — that fun run would have been impossible for me! I did take advantage of the 20% off store promotion and picked up my next pair of running shoes at a good price.

I then went on to have dinner at one of Kurt’s and my favorite restaurants on earth, and I managed to enjoy my food and eat most of it even through my tears. This place has a loyal local demographic that Kurt and I didn’t fit, but we loved it for the food and the memories of our special occasions that he and I celebrated there. I had gotten used to walking in and being one of the few females in the place, so it was a minimally-threatening place to be a female by myself… but it was still very tough to be there.

Tomorrow I’ll be off again on further adventures, but I’ll return later to spend more time here — and I’ll run a half marathon not far from here on New Years Eve. Slowly and happily.

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Posted on September 13, 2011, in grief, Philosophy, Porsches, Running and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. “Wherever I go, you’re still not there.” That’s the hardest part…

  2. Rebecca,
    Your blog is very powerful. You will be giving me glimpses of something resembling my own future. Thank you for visiting my blog.
    — Lori

  3. I find that roads bring up different memories when I’m driving vs. being a passenger, and those new connections can happen even over places I’ve been dozens of times in the last few decades…

  1. Pingback: A return to Monterey | Slow Happy Living

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