Just as I was beginning to get comfortably settled in here, we’ve got to head out again today. Back through Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and then Oklahoma. I had hoped to write something more substantial before I left again, but such is life. At least I don’t have to drive the big truck this time.
Eight or nine years ago, I moved from California to Arkansas. I started out in a 17 foot U-Haul truck. Somewhere near Santa Rosa, New Mexico, a wheel fell off. Trucks don’t drive well on three wheels. I managed to get it oriented well enough to slide into the center divider without hitting anyone, or anyone hitting me, as it rolled over. Every since that time, when I drive a big truck I feel fragile. Trucks pitch you around in ways you never feel in a car. I completed the rest of the trip in a 30-footer, feeling as if I might roll over at any second. U-Haul’s slogan “Adventures in Moving” still haunts me. It wasn’t the sort of adventure I was looking for.
This time, it was a 25-foot Penske. I just couldn’t find it in myself to go U-Hauling any more. When I was forced to take a truck bypass I hadn’t counted on, I ended up cruising it through the narrow streets of a park near my apartment that I turned into by mistake. My partner, following in my car, thought I was showing off how well I could drive. It’s pretty easy to get used to a big truck, but by the time you do your trip is done. The Penske truck felt much safer— but not as safe as my little Ford car. The car also takes much less time to unload.
I managed to start reading again this week—mostly Quintilian and Hugh Blair, if anyone cares. The thoughts which I must lay aside for now mostly have to do with the role of memory. Mike Snider wrote an interesting post about memorizing poetry, linking some articles well worth reading. Memoria has been displaced from the canons of rhetoric for a long time now, and the reasons for this are complex. I was never forced to memorize much (other than the prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Middle English) during my trip through school. I always hated anything that was based in rote memorization. A major problem, of course, is defining memory and figuring out how it should be applied.
This week my partner commented—“Why is it that you can remember all the lyrics to songs you haven’t heard in decades and you can’t remember poetry?” I could have dodged the question citing my taste for 4,000 line monsters like Blake’s Jerusalem, but I think it’s more a matter of kairos. We remember songs, I think, because we connect them with times and situations in our lives that were important to us. Like most people, I suspect that even if I were asked to memorize anything in school when I was young, I wouldn’t remember it now because school just wasn’t that important then. Music, on the other hand, has always been important to me.
I had to repeat that to myself over and over while I was unloading the big truck. Two thousand LPs and cases of cassettes, not to mention the thousands of CDs made me question just why I haul all these mnemonic devices around with me wherever I go. Most of them are securely in place inside my head. Why do I need the polymer-binding substances? I suspect because they make me feel at home.
I hate the fact that now that they’re unpacked, I have to leave again.