Gone To Kingston

Walking down the street in Kingston, New York this week I was stopped in my tracks by the smell of lilac. It occurred to me that it’s been almost a year since I posted here. I’ve been gone.

Gone? It got me thinking about the word “gone” and the many senses we use it in. It means absent. It means drunk. It means completely in love. And it means out of love. It means to have left, and to be poised to leave. The day my father died, someone texted me, “I heard your father’s getting close.” “He’s already gone,” I replied.

The online dictionary etymonline says the word has been used since at least the 1590s to connote hopelessness and the condition of being “beyond recovery.” (It also notes that we have been using the word “go” as a euphemism for “urinate” since at least the 1920s.)

I’ve never once enjoyed a day of fishing, though I’ve made a few attempts. While watching old black and white comedies as a kid, however, I already knew what “gone fishing” meant – and what it connoted. You could say “on fishing break” or simply “closed till next week,” but that’s not the same thing, is it?

Ponckhockie, Kingston, with the Hudson River behind it. The mouth of the Rondout Creek is to the right and the Kingston Lighthouse, at center left, is visible from the Rhinecliff train station across the river.

I’ve been gone to Kingston. I left New York five years ago with the intention of buying a little place in a small village in the greater Catskills. Then a year ago I ended up buying my first home, not in the picturesque mountains – though you have an excellent view of them from the Lowe’s parking lot – but in this mini-Brooklyn on the Hudson. And I live in the lowest part of it, where the accents and the climate are positively Mid-Atlantic.

A year ago I had a house picked out in a town with the wonderful name Bovina Center. With a yard and a historic barn and a friend who lived own the street. And friends reminded me what a social creature I am, and how much I’d miss being surrounded by people. So without trying to, I ended up in a strangely secluded part of Kingston. With skunks and raccoons and industrial ruins with chutes growing through them all around me.

And Whitman! And friends. And The Criterion Channel. Dreams and aspirations come and go – and as of this year the house in the country is gone. Things change, even change radically, and also stay the same.

The film that uses the spring blossoms to show the cyclical nature of time to the sweetest effect would be Amarcord, to my knowledge. It starts and ends with the puffballs that marked the end of winter in Fellini’s hometown. Wouldn’t you know it, I stepped out the door of a restaurant yesterday and saw puffballs. I’m gone, but I’m also back.


  1. Valerie Bowe says:

    Welcome back!

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