Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I stumbled onto a blog post yesterday about my hometown, St. Louis. For whatever reason (and everyone who doesn’t live in their hometown gets this from time to time), I was filled with a gooey nostalgic feeling that prompted me — unwisely! — to think about my past.
It’s unavoidable, I guess, but by and large it’s something we should avoid. Thinking about our past. If the Cardinals had won the World Series, maybe I wouldn’t have fallen into the trap quite so easily…
Anyway, it hit me. Some of the most important, formative periods in my life were only a few months long. At the time, they felt like — “my life” — but it turns out that they were mere blips, moments, snapshots. Yet they were crucial in making me the person I became. Am.
Take the Street View shot above. It’s the intersection of Euclid Ave. and McPherson Blvd. in St. Louis. I lived in that block of McPherson when I was twenty-two, and as The Weavers would say, Wasn’t that a time. A small group of friends and I worked in the neighborhood, and because we got off work at midnight most of the time, we’d hustle down to Llywelyn’s Pub (second building from the corner in the photo) for a couple of cheap Pabsts before last call. We talked about the things that were important to us. That is, Everything. We’d gone to high school together and, though we didn’t know it, we were in the act of jettisoning our past, like rockets approaching escape velocity. The neighborhood was our new turf.
I came out of that period thinking of myself as a writer, so of course it looms large.
Two other key moments were just that: moments. I lived in Newport News, Virginia, for less than a year when I was eleven. My family was fine going in but didn’t survive the leaving. It was my Huck Finn year, I guess you could say, when the grip of childhood was loosening but I wasn’t fully aware of what the adults around me were going through. I was in the woods, oblivious.
Then there was my year of college in London. It was sweet and painfully short, so I went back for the summer a year later. Both flashes in time were pivotal for me, and over with in a blink.
But are those times really lost?
I don’t want to have to read Proust to find out…