There are so many threads to this tapestry, it’s hard to know where to start this post. I’ll begin with my own family: beginning with the first William Richardson in America. I share his name – Donne Huw William Richardson – and I had the “William” even before I changed my name in 2000. William Richardson was on the boat with William Penn. I highly suspect he wasn’t a Quaker – but that other sort of non-conformist: a Roman Catholic. I suspect this because one of his family members – also a William Richardson – was a Martyr under Elizabeth the First. Anyway, William didn’t stay in Pennsylvania he moved southward and his descendants gave us Richardson town and county Tennessee, and later a line of Richardson towns ending in Texas. There was another clan of the same family that moved northward from Tennessee and ended up in Manitoba. From thence came my Grandfather. He was my grandmother’s third husband (pretty adventurous for the 1930s). They met and married in Michigan after he had spent a large part of his life moving – having served in the US army on the Panama Canal and in San Francisco. He was also a rail-riding hobo. He tried settling down in Michigan, but then they started to rove: Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Georgia again, Georgia a third time, Florida, back to Georgia… In all that moving my mother was born, and a mobile home was acquired when she was around ten. The home moved too, until it was sold after I was out of college. My family – Mom, Dad and kids, however, kept roving. In 12 years of public education, I attended 9 different schools. My Amazon profile says Atlanta, Acworth, Wurtsboro, NYC, Hoboken, Astoria, SF, Asheville, Buffalo, and SF, but I think, off the top of my head, I could add at least 10 other locations to that list.
There was another William Richardson. He was a sailor. But he ended up staying in one place for the entire second half of his life: he got off his ship, married a local girl, and became one of the the first gringos in San Francisco and the founder of Sausalito… also he became Roman Catholic.
Roots and connectedness and weavings are traditional descriptors of human society. But increasingly (I’m 52 now) I feel as if my life is less a woven tapestry than it is a line on a map, or a journey in process: a through-hike on a very long trail. Dare I say, life can be like a labyrinth. I have few folks, beyond immediate family, that stay in my life, although some stay for a decade or more. Rather than the uprooted tree at the top of the post (which will, most likely, die) a more descriptive image for my life is found in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985). She calls this open spiral the Heyiya-If:
The point of it is both the coming together of the lines and their interplay in the open space: nothing is tied down. It is in that open space that dancing happens, that learning happens that changes both parties if they stay together for a while or if they do not stay together very long at all.
I don’t have much of a point more than to wonder if there is a point… we’re working out our salvation: some can do that in one place, and some rove.