Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Continental Heart – Lissa McLaughlin

Lissa McLaughlin – alive and doing quite well.

Well, it appears that we have a story from someone who is not a “Gardner Person”.

In his introduction to the BASS 1982, Gardner states that this story could be classified as unconventional fiction and as “powerful”.

I had a difficult time with this story when I first read it. Even after a re-read, it still leaves me a bit perplexed. This though is a beautiful thing. We don’t need to understand everything on its surface. Sometimes meanings come to us between the lines.

I think this is another story that was perfect for its time (1981). I’m not saying that it’s not relevant today...I’d argue that it can stand stronger today... in our world –.


There are times, and these occur pretty often in my life, when the sun is at a certain angle in the sky, or the wind hits my face from a certain direction at a precise temperature, and a distant sound, or a shadow on a patch of dirt or grass catches my eye, I find myself transported out of my physical world into that of my memories.

Standing at a train window, in 1993 looking across the endless fields of southern Russia wondering if this is “home”.

Standing at another train window in northern Romania in 2000 wondering if running away from the woman that I love was the right thing to do.

Glancing out the window of my dorm room in Negresti and seeing her walking to me.

Sitting on a shady park bench in Romania in 1998 where I struggled to put my feelings into words in a letter home as tears welled in my eyes.

Watching a bee work from clover flower to clover flower as I sit on that same park bench in 1999, and knowing everything is going to be OK.

A dog barking in the distance – a cow mooing- as I sat on a hilltop in 1999 overlooking Negresti as the sunsets contemplating my worth to this world.

Staring into the mirrored wall of a bar at 3:00 a.m. in 2000, smoking my last cigarette and drinking yet another glass of Vodka and wondering if she will ever love me.

Sunlight shinning through the grape leaves on a cool morning in the spring of 2000, onto the table between us as I stun her with news that will change our lives forever.

A quiet morning on the banks of the Susquehanna River in 1994 – wondering what my future holds – and if I’ll ever amount to anything after a multi-year failed endeavor.

A Sunday afternoon sitting in my bachelor’s room in 1997 drinking my 8th beer and wishing I was anyplace but there.

Hearing the Blue Danube Waltz played as “hold” music as I call my father in 1998 to tell him that I will be leaving in a few months...for a long long time.

Sitting at my desk at work in 2005, looking at the sun shining outside my window and wondering if the last 4 years here was the right thing to do.

The memories are stirred so easily in me, and these images will never be written over, and when, or if I ever, have my life flash before me in an instant – these are the visions that will appear.

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