I know that one person’s nostlagia can be another person’s mind-numbing boredom. Sometimes the things from the past that most touch us, that most bring us to life, are things which no audience — not even an audience of one — is eager to hear about.
So some of us keep a lot of our memories to ourself. Or we try.
Last week, I had the still shocking experience of learning that one of my graduate students here in NYC grew up in the same southern California suburb I did, and that her family owned the Five Lanterns Chinese Retaurant, in Covina, California, the place I had my first job in 1965.
I was a bus boy in that wonderful Chinese Restaurant, one of only two Chinese Restaurants for miles around in a suburb that — to this day — I recall as one of the least diverse places I have ever seen or visited.
I may have more to say later: For now, all I am feeling is the flimsiness of concepts like escaping, “getting away from it all,” or starting over. They may be occasionally useful in the course of a lifetime, but it seems that I have rarely been able to truly escape or get away from anything.
Memories, joys, and hurts travel. And travel well.
I dropped an enormous tray of dishes at that restaurant. On a busy weekend night. And until last week, that tray was gone forever.