Thursday, August 18, 2005

He's Gone

As those of you who know me are well aware (and those more casual readers will soon find out), I am leaving my family home for the first time in any permanent sense within a week. I have been busying myself with the requisite tasks that it takes to move, including cleaning the deep fryer, letting my creditors know where to send the past-due notices and packing the collections of twenty-eight years at the same address (I am not counting the four years at Saint Joseph's. That was just like an extended camping holiday).

The real weight of the affair has yet to hit me, which I am sure it will soon enough. I am overcome with an intense sense of parting never to return, although I know I will. Perhaps it is something engrained in my Irish soul that views parting as final and as something that we all must do. Believe me, I want to live on my own as sure as my parents would like to see me seek my life elsewhere for a change. I cannot, however, help these feelings of loss and finality. There is a going-away party for me on Saturday and I cannot help but view it as somewhat of a funeral for the Will Shannon that a lot of people know. I hope that I do not change much, but who knows?

As I sit here in my quiet house, where I have lived since October 15, 1983, all the past here washes over me in an incomprehensible river of memory. Remember a few weeks back when we discussed history and memory. I am overwhelmed by memory at current even on the brink of the last step in my preparation for a career as a professional historian. I guess things can look different without the distance of the past to protect you from the feelings of your own. This place, this spatial reality, will forever be a part of me, as will the temporal occurences that happened here. How could I ever forget? My family will still be mine but never in the same way again. I am sure that this is good in a way, but I cannot help but reflect on the situation with some trepidation.

I am sure that I will not lose contact with this reality, but who doesn't say that upon leaving? What immigrant didn't promise to return home? What group of friends upon graduating said that they would keep in touch forever? In a sense, we are all moving foreward with the constant burden of the past guiding and biasing us. I am, in a certain sense, my past and it has not always been pleasant. I went through some rough years and some rougher times of dizzying highs and disturbing lows. I have come through it all and stand now at the threshold, looking back not out of want but of necessity. I can never forget, nor would I completely want to.

So, as I forge on, I try to make sense of it all. The one thing that comes to me over and over are the words of the old Irish folk tune "The Parting Glass." It is with these words that I conclude for now:

Oh all the money that e'er I had, I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e'er I've done, alas, it was to none but me
And all I've done for want of wit to memory now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

Oh all the comrades that e'er I've had, they are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e'er I've had, they would wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not
I'll gently rise and I'll softly call good night and joy be with you all


Frema said...

When I left home in 1998 for Saint Joe, I had no way of knowing that I would never really live there again. Now I'm in my third non-dormitory living space. And yet I still call Chicago "home."

Good luck with the big move. I hope everything works out well for you.

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