Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Leaving Footprints

One of Tocci's business ventures was selling rings at the Swap Shop, a gigantic flea market in Fort Lauderdale. At night it is a 14-screen drive-in theater, so every morning hundreds of vendors show up to a huge empty parking lot and they put up tents and displays and create an instant marketplace, and every night they take it all down and remove it.

Two or three times when she was five years old, Danielle spent the day at the Swap Shop with her dad. She liked to stand on a box behind the counter, chatting up the customers, making the sale. A few months after Tocci had last been there, I was at the flea market, just strolling and shopping. I passed by the location where the ring stand had sometimes been located. It was something completely different now, maybe handbags. As I was walking by, I heard one shopper say to another, "Right there--that's where that little girl was selling the rings."

This passage from Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen, always makes me cry:

"If I know a song of Africa...of the Giraffe, and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee-pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Would the air over the plain quiver with a colour that I had had on, or the children invent a game in which my name was, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or would the eagles of Ngong look out for me?" ( p. 79)

Does a person's presence create a lasting physical change in the environment, a change that can be detected if we are open and sensitive to it? Is it only memory, and does it only exist when there's a person there to remember? Or do we shed DNA wherever we go, and leave our indelible footprints behind?

I'll be seeing you in all the old, familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces all day through
In that small cafe, the park across the way
The children's carousel, the chestnut tree, the wishing well

...I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you...

--Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain


upper-class said...
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Natwho said...
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