The writer and his sister in a field of Blue Bonnets near Barton Creek Square Mall, on the edge of the Texas Hill Country
My blogging friend Nick Bromley is skilled at taking handfuls of memories from his childhood and writing about the connections he makes between his quests in adult life and the early events that made him who he is.
Nick’s post is less of an essay than it is a poignant, unfinished reflection on those moments frozen in the past that resonate as significant years later. In the Essays on Childhood project, we strive to encourage the writing process in various stages. Nick is an accomplished writer, but he also knows the value of allowing the smaller visions and insights to gain a life of their own in a few paragraphs. I’ve been reading his blog long enough now to know that it’s these times when he allows himself to make concrete even the vaguest memories that lead to real breakthroughs later.
Every writer could take a tip from Nick in this department.
You may read his entire post here, The Geography of Identity; Where Blue Bonnets Paint the Hills « Atoms of Thought.
“Everything outside of the picture still exists. The four lane highway carries more cars today than when I was a boy, but it looks exactly as it did almost three decades ago. The mall has changed very little on the outside. A few apartments have risen on nearby hills with glorious views of downtown Austin and the thunderstorms that roll in from the east every Spring. Everything in the picture, however, has disappeared. The hill remains, of course, but Lady Byrd Johnson and her army of Blue Bonnet enthusiasts stopped seeding that hill soon after my sister and I posed on it for my parents. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that, in the interest of public safety, the city itself forbade parking on the shoulder of the highway to take pictures.”
Who can say what magic connects us to others in mysterious and unexplained ways? We often never know or understand, but we feel it when it happens.
I feel a magic in my “discovery” of Nick Bromley, who writes a wonderful blog called Atoms of Thought. There are strange symmetries in our musings at large, and lately in real-time. You will not want to miss his post Encounters with Drifters and Prisoners; Thoughts on Manhood « Atoms of Thought, which segues beautifully from my own last post about Schwarzenegger.
An excerpt to tempt you:
If they could have seen their own faces, naked with the wonder and hope of children, they may have recoiled from themselves and the unmanliness they beheld. But they could not see what I saw. They didn’t know that tears glistened in their eyes. They didn’t know that they giggled like little boys who had stumbled upon some squirmy creature for the first time and were taken with the novelty of their discovery. They were lost in themselves, lost in the world that was new to them again, forgetful of the manliness society told them they had to project from a young age.
There’s something wonderful about watching a grown man return to himself, seeing him shake off the costume of masculinity and toughness in which he usually clothes himself, and listening to him as he expresses the complex mixture of hope, confusion, and fear that our culture tells us to suppress.
My next post will be about this very focus in Essays on Childhood. Thank you, Nick, for generously sharing your reflections on your own blog, and for allowing me to link to them here.
I know Esse Diem readers will enjoy this post!
Image credit: 1789 Book of Common Prayer