Thursday, November 5, 2015

Autumn Space

Trees bare, early darkness: as the year winds down for me, it turns toward childhood. Much more than recollection, deeper than memory; walking home from school young and impatient day after day, while each day takes forever – yet mature enough to understand childhood’s constraints.

During the 1960s, a full-page ad for something very glamorous ran every week in the New York Times Magazine. The ad made a strong impression on me. The tagline was “By this time you should have quite a past.” Until today I remembered it as an advertisement for Blackglama mink but it turns out that the mink tagline was, “What becomes a legend most?” So that was not it.

Perhaps the quote came from an ad for perfume? Scarves? Anyway, I can’t retrieve it.

What I know is that waiting and walking, shuffling through leaves, I would say to myself: “By this time you should have quite a past.”

The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote exquisitely about childhood, reverie, and space. By space he meant the places with which we have an affinity, where we daydreamed as children; places thick with association. Bachelard referred often to the childhood home as one of those places.

For me that walk from school in early autumn, filled with longing to be older with the mystery of a past, is a space that I go back to year after year. 

Collage by Claudia Keenan


  1. And you do so with a completely distinctive voice, year after year.

  2. I remember singing "Those were the days my friends, we thought they'd never end, we'd sing and dance forever and a day" ( by Mary Hopkin) I also longed to feel the mystery of the past.

  3. Of course that's implies one's past is someone a mystery to oneself, but that's never really true is it? But one is supposed to enjoy being mysterious to others -- it has an erotic frisson to it.


July Night