My mother does not remember the name of Glannon’s, the shopping center at the corner of Duncan and Ferguson where she and my father used to take me when I was little. My father does not recall teaching me to wrangle iron filings with his pen-magnet, which still sits in his study. Nor can he summon the name of the first Anthony in America, Manoel Antonio, whose name he taught me as liturgy so many years ago.
Names of their friends. When things happened. Routes to familiar places. Small things, important things. Gone, except that I remember them. My parents’ memories have found a home in me.
This is why we write.
Death and age steal from us the things that we have collected on our journeys. Time puts them in limbo, locks them in distant, impenetrable cabinets never to be retrieved. Those collections are ours only in our most lucid, highest moments. We think we own them, but we are only their temporary stewards.
And unlike physical things, they cannot be passed on. Unless we write.
We write for our lives. We write for our loved ones’ lives. We write for other people who might someday come across our mental collections and make connections or add ideas or create better paths for themselves.
We write because it is the only way we can be permanent. We write down the things that we will forget, so that they take one more step toward real, so that they can endure beyond the hopelessly simple, hopelessly complex electrical signals that are our brainwaves. We write to wrestle our meager pieces of the world into a semi-coherent narrative that our descendants can add to. We write to survive, to endure, to be eternal.
This is why we write.
— Allison Park, PA, 2/22/2007, 9:41 PM
Ted Anthony, a Pittsburgh native and co-founder of Breadcrumbs, is a Baby Boomer by generation and a Gen-Xer by age. He has been dissecting and musing about American culture since Guns N’ Roses was on the charts and “Rain Man” was in the theaters. He is the author of Chasing the Rising Sun: The Journey of an American Song. He tweets here, Instagrams here and collects various fragmentary images and thoughts on Tumblr here.
©2018 |Ted Anthony