My Humble Gatsbyesque Beginnings

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." -The Great Gatsby

We grew up in an old farm house. In the summer the flies crawled beneath the siding as their wings dried, and in the winter, the mice and bats found comfort in the same crawl spaces. This is the house I remember in my dreams and nightmares, and it is the only place that matters in those spaces in between. I return here every time I come home, if only to watch its progress towards sinking into the ground; the more it crumbles the more nostalgic I become.

When I try to describe to people the place and time where I come from, the impossible task usually ends in those listeners feeling I must be exaggerating the trials and tribulations so as to inflate my accomplishments. People can be so jaded. When I go home to see the house I only ask: How did I ever manage to get out of here without angelic intervention?  The answer I have mulled over in my head is that it all came down to dumb luck that I liked to read and that my teachers encouraged me, in their fashion, to try new things. Most days I associate myself with Fitzgerald’s character, Jay Gatsby, as a boy who wanted to be more than he was. Many days, I realize that I totter near having become more that I should be…perhaps.

The beach and the ocean are the one thing I miss the most. I am not a great swimmer or boating fiend, but I miss the smell and sound of the water. I miss being able to drive to the water in the middle of the night to find solace in the roll of the tides and waves.  I miss watching blue jays hide in snow-laden pines. I miss the taste of the yellow transparent apples from the tree out front, and I miss watching the wasps feed on the rotting fruit that fell and filled with juicy decay.

The Island remains a unique place. Certainly, there are all kinds of poorly conceived, poorly constructed developments being built to rent to tenants who do not understand the value of distance and the value of old houses. I can only hope that expensive lots for silly houses crunched together on flattened, empty landscapes will fail when the housing market fails – Island property is so highly overvalued at the moment. Such things happen when people from the mainland attempt to superimpose their values and tastes onto a landscape they do not understand.

One day I hope to be able to buy a large, wooded property on the Island, far away from the idiotic developers who are building cookie-cutter houses for tourists. When I was hiking in the Atlas Mountains this summer, I dreamed that I planted apple trees on a piece of land whereon I intended to build a house for my old age. It was a happy dream that brought me back to why understanding where the point of beginning is key if one’s life is ever to come full circle in its completion



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