One of my favorite things about selling my work on line, which excited me from the very start of this adventure, is the ability to connect with people throughout the world.
Having loved traveling when I was younger I could easily imagine my packages arriving in far off places, especially places throughout the world I had visited.
What I did not know is that it would stimulate my imagination so much is learning about all the places my packages go. When I've sold something to Rome, Paris, Dublin, Chicago, Montreal, Sydney, Edinburgh etc etc I can instantly picture these places and it is a thrill to ship something to a person who discovered your work from halfway across the world. But what I love even more is selling to someone who lives in a small town, a village, a remote location on any continent. Small towns that I have never heard of before. I turn immediately to our old friend, Wikipedia, and I spend a few minutes familiarizing myself with the where and whens of it's history and locale. The inevitable pictures of main streets, historic sights, architecture, sweeping landscapes and vistas and old twisting roads and pathways pull at something in my heart. Of course, I've chosen to live in one of those towns too so what registers is the instant realization that someone who lives as I do, but many miles away, can find my shop, see my work, and decide to bring it into their home or gift it to someone they love.
In the past week I've shipped packages off to places like
Theresa, Wisconsin (pop 1200)
Havre Boucher, Nova Scotia (pop 1500)
Crickhowell, Wales (pop 2,800)
Gravdal, Norway (pop 1500)
Each allowed me a chance to peek into the remote and unheralded places of our world.
I suppose what interests me most is this. I feel like I know cities. I've lived in my share. It's not that they are all the same but they all have very similar dynamics to them. Population density, a mix of old and new architectures and infrastructure. Constant change and shuffle. Lives pass through them in a heartbeat with no trace left to remember them by. The cities ARE the stories. . . and they are, at this point in my life, rather overwhelming to consider.
People actually use the term "livable city" these days. That should tell you all you need to know.
But for all of their grandness and opportunity and energy, they are desperately lacking in something I find to be a necessity. Continuity.
Especially in this country, old is not nearly appreciated enough be that in people or buildings. Face-lifts on both offer a promise of newness and vitality but it's all a facade.
Cities, it seems to me, swallow people whole. . .
Smaller places. Landscapes and places that do not change. . . one leaves a mark there. Stories evolve over time and lives stretch into the very fiber of the places they inhabit. That's lore. That's history. And it is not forgotten. That's what is interesting and eternal about them.
Look up Halstatt, Austria (pop 950) on Wikipedia and you will find a photo of the town from just a few years ago as well as one from 1898. There is so little difference in them it's amazing. Same scene, same buildings. Same beauty. No one moves there to "be something." or to attain anything (except, obviously, peace and soulful living) No one moves there to cash in on real estate opportunities or to bring something new to the town. no one moves there for social outlets or the overt distractions of population densities as we all have done with our city dwelling.
The US has it's share of places like this too. My town is one. Every building here has a story and it's not something you have to look up or dig to discover. Just ask anyone old enough and they can tell you it all. People in cities can;t tell you about the last person to live in their house or apartment let alone the history of the block, neighborhood or community.
But in my town? A lot of people today and their families have lived here in this little fishing town for generations. Yes, things change here as with any US town. Our culture and economic structure demands it unfortunately. Change and growth are synonymous with success in the US and are often just an ephemeral illusion and an empty promise. But much stays the same too.
This little coastal town I live in is a gem. All the places I listed above are too. . . If I were to travel again in my lifetime, THESE are the places I'd want to see. But i am content here. . .and that is a feeling I never had in the city.
But that's me. . . I'm Larkrise to Candleford over EastEnders . . . Little House over Gotham City
These little discoveries are one of the many reciprocal gifts of what I do. These "out there" places work their way, in the smallest but most meaningful of ways, into my stories.
Into my paracosm.
Into my heart.
I won't forget them