Friday, August 3, 2007

Sunday Aug 3

Another fruitless day

Looking back I see that I
have almost the same identical
ideas of 10 years ago, I am
still single and still in search
of happiness but more vigorous.

While some younger folks
who once sang the same songs
as I still do, of a love to come
are long married and [are] fathers or
mothers, and I am still weaving
my dreams.

They have realized their sought
happiness and have other ideas now
which matrimonial evolution brings along
But even to dream of a romance
(that might not come perhaps)
is also beautiful, even if painful
as in my case, because of my
great longing.


Sigh. I'm going on vacation for two weeks and will only have spotty Internet access, but I hope to get a few posts in here and there. But I think this entry is an appropriate note on which to pause. It reads like the words of a chorus, or as if Papa himself has stopped at the end of an act, turned to his audience, and summed up everything sad and wistful and lovely about this moment in his life.

Since his arrival in America eleven years ago, Papa has been, I think, in a sort of limbo, with one foot in the old world and one foot in the new. He senses this and acknowledges it when he says he has the "same identical ideas of ten years ago," though I'm not sure he knows why. When he came here he was already eighteen, a young adult ready to take his next step into maturity. Suddenly, though, the terrain changed on him, and perhaps the unfamiliarity froze him in place just as he was about to move forward. Or maybe the simple need to survive and work and get oriented, or the happy distraction of living with and supporting his sister after she arrived, prevented certain facets of his character from developing in the way they might have. To outside observers he was a competent, upstanding, generous young man, but still something held him back.

So what was it? Lately I've come to think that the very source of comfort and strength that kept him going through his early years in this country may have been the very force that kept him in place: his love for his family back home, especially for the father he admired so much. By idealizing them, fantasizing about the day he might be with them again, entertaining impossible thoughts of bringing them over from Sniatyn, he may have prevented himself from leaving them behind. Without knowing it, he allowed his need to depend on them to prevent him from exploring his own independence. Instead, he became practiced at weaving dreams and singing songs of what might be, but not as good at embracing what was.

I think he knew all this. In this entry he acknowledges his stasis, contrasts himself with others who have changed through "matrimonial evolution," shows how much he, too, would like to feel the force of change. Yet he has a poet's attachment to his state of perpetual loneliness, unable to reject his beautiful capacity for dreaming even though it pains him. Still, I wonder if something new is happening to him, if something significant has triggered this ode to his "great longing." Could it be that he's taking a long, last glance at something he's preparing to let go?

Papa has been preoccupied with the sense of "lost paradise" he's felt since his father died in May. I think what he really lost was his attachment to the old country and his impossible, boyish need to remain partly in the world he once knew. The death of his father may have jolted Papa in the same way his arrival in America did eleven years before, unexpectedly shaking the past's hold on him. Is he ready, at last, to plant both feet in America, to stop living so much in his dreams and instead start embracing what's tangible? As he pauses today to take stock of his life, is he planning to start the next act? Are we seeing the sign of internal change that would allow him, the following year, to be less restless, to meet, commit to, and pursue the woman he would marry and with whom he would start his own family?

1 comment:

  1. Have a wonderful vacation.

    This is a great idea for a blog. I just found it when catching up on reading the Forward. I look forward to new posts when you return.