In the last six months, I found myself visiting old spaces or places where I had once resided. The old adage goes that you can never go home again; but I have found that sometimes we have to return to the former to put some missing pieces in place. I recently finished Daniel Black’s book called Twelve Gates to the City.
TL returns to his birthplace and is not quite sure why he feels compelled to stay and not return to New York City. As it turns out, he is there to get some needed answers about his life that will make him more complete. He always felt as if his mother did not love him and on this particular trip, he discovers that Marion is not his biological mother. He is in fact the ‘love child’ of his father’s and the local school teacher’s. He now understands why he had such a great affection for his teacher and why he was the apple of her eye.
One quote from the book reads, “Grandma used to call God the Great Orchestrator because when you look back over your life, she said, you realize that things happened just so other things would happen and God would get His way. It might look crazy at first, but, in the end, it all makes sense“(Twelve Gates to the City, p. 275).
Sometimes, we return to old spaces and it is like trying on an old pair of shoes. Some feel pretty good and there is a silent welcome home feeling. Others, we try on and our feet begin to hurt right away. The pain is unbearable so we immediately take them off. In reference to old spaces, we leave as quickly as we can, if there is no fit.
S.E. Hinton, the young author of The Outsiders, wrote in essence that there are stayers and goers. Some people live their entire lives in one space or city and find total contentment. Others have that invisible pull which draws them into a life of travel and they venture into several spaces or cities.
TL is back in Swamp Creek for now and stories have to end somewhere. But I have this feeling that he is back for a reason and a season. I would venture to say that he probably will leave again. Towards the end of the novel, he has already begun to feel some of the constrictions of the small community.
Sometimes, people have to go backwards to go forward. I believe that TL will fulfill his mission as the new schoolmaster to settle the score with his now deceased mother. But, ultimately, I think TL will be singing along with Chaka Khan and Rufus when they said that “the universe is calling you,” in Pack’d My Bags and Swamp Creek will become his next launch pad.
Lynn October 31, 2014