Friday, December 21, 2012

Why I live here

In a couple of months, I will have lived in Brattleboro longer than I have lived anywhere else - including the town in which I grew up. Brattleboro has changed a lot since I moved here, and, of course, in some ways it hasn't changed at all. It's that kind of town, which may sound like everyplace.

When I moved here, I had been living in Boston for 8 years. I loved living there, but the area in which I could afford to live was dangerous. I refuse to cooperate with muggers and, after achieving my mid 40's, was unable to win battles with teenage thugs - I was beginning to take stitches. I'd been working for Columbia and Tri-Star, which had changed hands and been purchased by Sony. After a few years of their ownership, Sony decided to downsize and a week before Christmas 1994 closed well over half of their film offices across the country. I'd spent 20 years in film distribution; the other exchanges in Boston were also closing, and there were no more jobs in the film business to be had. For a number of reasons, I moved to Brattleboro.

That move proved financially ill advised. In fact, it destroyed a good bit of my life and was a rather poor choice in many respects. I would probably have done better to return to New York City and looked for work there, but I chose to move further out, to be closer to natural spaces, where I could garden, where young children would be growing up with faces full of smiles and wonder, places where the costs were less and I could afford to live a little better. After many years, as the town I had grown to love changed, and my circumstances had become reduced, I began to think about moving elsewhere.

This morning I woke to a messy wet snow which was in the process of switching to rain. The streets had been plowed, pushing the wet heavy slush upon the sidewalks. Since I retired, I've been doing my old Friday morning radio show from 7am until 9am on our local community station. After next week, another show will be expanding into part of that time-slot and I will probably stop. At any rate, this morning, after the show and after tending to a few station chores, I set out on my walk home.


I'd barely gotten a half a block - in fact, I was right in front of the Congregational Church - when the bells began to ring in their steeple. I looked up to the clock, and noticed that it was 9:30am. The bells kept ringing; they weren't tolling the half hour. I crossed the street to stop at the Post Office; the bells were still ringing. And then it occurred to me - it had been exactly one week since the horror that had taken place in Newtown, Connecticut. I froze. And for some reason or other, without thinking about it, I took my hat off and held it over my heart while I stood there. A woman rushing to take a large unwieldy package into the building saw me, looked at the church steeple and stopped to stand silently in the rain beside me.

The ringing of the bells ended, and we went our separate ways. As I continued on my way home, other church bells were ringing in the distance. Then the bells from St. Michael's Catholic also began to peal.

And that's why I live here.


Austan said...

Yep, Bunky, that's why I'm here, too.
Misty-eyed in West B

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