“Maybe that was all it came down to, really, in the end,” Addie thinks near the end of In Hovering Flight:
A kind of nostalgia fueling everything she did. A longing for the past, for places where she’d been so young and full of yearning, a full and melancholy kind of yearning, that she’d forgotten about until these last months. A need to somehow freeze those places in time, to preserve them, to protect them, and thereby keep the lost world of her youth intact.
I’m like Addie in some ways, not at all like her in other ways. But I definitely share her nostalgia, her pining for the past. There I sat at that picnic table by the Delaware River and the Delaware Canal on that hot July day, longing for the days when I used to jog along the footpath behind me, or for the thrill of discovery when I was still figuring out who Addie and Scarlet were, the complicated love Tom felt for both of them, the durable friendships of Addie, Cora, and Lou.
Earlier in July I’d heard the Dalai Lama speak at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. All suffering is rooted in change, he told us.
On my way to the picnic table between the river and canal I’d driven by the old mill where we lived when Anna was born. We moved a month before her first birthday, and it’s a good thing we did; the first level of that mill house has filled with water twice since we moved. It’s empty now, and there’s a For Sale sign up in front. When I looked up at the big front window on the second floor—the one where I used to sit in a rocker, nursing Anna—I felt like crying.