Stories are often prefaced with a conventional beginning when in fact, like people and life, they should begin with a place.
Existentialism began in Paris, in the alleyway between the Café de Flore and the Café des Deux Magots. Dadaism, in Zurich, around the narrow wooden tables of Le Voltaire. The croissant, in Vienna, inside an insomniac baker’s oven. Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, on the terrace of La Closerie des Lilas.
Every story, man, and pastry starts in a place drawn from a celestial hat.
My story began in southern California. I (my personality) did not choose my origin — but it determined the God I would speak to, the passport I would hold, the languages I would speak, the lullabies I would hear, the traditions I would learn and the foods I would be fed.
But origins are not roots, and we are not trees. They are forever condemned to a place; we are meant to find ours.
Long before the world was scribbled on by frontiers, most indigenous people were nomads. They followed wind, stars, and water wells, in search of pasture, prey, or opportunities for trade. Never setting up camp too long, constantly searching for another place.
Centuries, empires, and nations later, we are still searching for our place.
Marco Polo went all the way to Beijing. Christopher Columbus, to Santo Domingo. Phileas Fogg journeyed around the world in a record eighty days to wind up where he started. J.M. Barrie flew to Neverland.
And I, I went to Berlin, where in three rich years I lived a lifetime. To Montalcino to sip a rich, red Brunello, and to Florence to nibble on an aged pecorino. To every boulangerie in Paris to find the best baguette, and every confiserie in Geneva to find the darkest chocolate. To the top of the Rocher de Naye, just for the view. To Barcelona to butcher the Catalan language in a hotel lobby, and to London to read poetry on a bus.
To New York to start writing, and later, to Las Vegas to teach it. To many a conference, and an opera, and to parties, receptions, cafes and pubs, to end the night, like Holly Golightly, eating a croissant in front of a Tiffany’s storefront.
I understand the nomads. The gypsies, the travelers, the wanderers. They are not searching for their place. They, like I, already know it.
I once wrote, where is home? I stated it’s wherever I claimed it to be.
My place is a multitude of experiences that began once upon a time looking out of a window sill.
Nobody can tell you where your place is — it’s up to each of us to find it. It’s where sensations are new, where art pours out of daily life, where everything exists in a rhythmic flow — where you are happy.