Last week, M., who recently turned 33, landed in New York City to begin his new position. He arrived with his two allotted bags and one carry-on. Just as I, seven years ago, landed in Nairobi, leaving New York City (I thought) for good. I had recently turned 33. I had my allotted two bags and one carry on. It was April 19th 2001. I remember it was April 19th because exactly three years later, April 19th 2004, the girl was born.
Things are a bit different, of course. Following M.'s two bags and one carry-on with be a container of furniture and children's toys; and following M. will be his wife and children. He has it a bit more together than I did at his age... But regardless, I can't help seeing the patterns, determining some sort of sorcery in them, tracing signs and interpreting hieroglyphics---whatever it takes to make sense out of what's actually quite arbitrary, whatever it takes to seek a semblance of coherence.
To quote an author quoting an author: "In his autobiography Speak, Memory, Nabokov describes an instance of coherence, the way a book of matches appears as a pivotal image a number of times, in very different contexts, in the writer's life. Delighted, he finds the patterning and coherence of art showing itself in experience, in memory. He writes, "The following of such thematic designs through one's life should be, I think, the true purpose of autobiography." (From Heaven's Coast, a memoir by Mark Doty.)
The following of thematic designs through one's life... I like that.
And this, which struck me from David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas ----the narrator is thinking about a new suspicious guest who has come to live with his family: "...but I din't sleep none that night, 'cos o' the mozzies an' nightbirds an' toads ringin' an' a myst'rous some'un what was hushly clatt'rin' thru our dwelling pickin' up stuff here an' puttin' it down there an' the name o'this myst'rous some'un was Change."