Sunday, June 29, 2008

You can't go home again

NOW READING: Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

The gamekeeper, aka Lady Chatterley's lover himself, is often not even named. Pages and pages will go by where he is just "the keeper" or "him." Lady Chatterley, on the other hand, has two names; she is usually narrated as "Connie" while other characters refer to her as the Lady or her Ladyship or whatever. This says a lot about identity, class, who we are, and "being someone" in the world.

Well, our little friend the keeper is not just your average coal town dude. He was in the army for many years and he was the assistant to some top dog or something, so basically he has hob-nobbed with the elite before, and this is why I think Lady Chatterley is attracted to him. (As opposed to if he were a total plebe.) But now he's back and can't escape his place anymore. He even switches back and forth between proper gentleman talk and the poor folk vernacular. He's lost. He doesn't belong in either place.

"He did not know what to do with himself. Since he had been an officer for some years, and had mixed among the other officers and civil servants, with their wives and families, he had lost all ambition to 'get on.' There was a toughness...and unlivingness about the middle and upper classes, as he had known them, which just left him feeling cold and different from them.

So, he had come back to his own class. To find there, what he had forgotten during his absence of years, a pettiness and a vulgarity of manner extremely distasteful. He admitted now at last, how important manner was. He admitted, also, how important it was even to pretend not to care about the halfpence and the small things of life. But among the common people there was no pretense. A penny more or less on the bacon was worse than a change in the Gospel. He could not stand it." - p. 193

I have felt that way a million times. Sometimes when I go back to Phoenix I look around and think -- really? Would it kill you to be a bit more hip? But then in New York and L.A. I make fun of people for being slaves to trends, appearances, and fashion. I do recall moments where I have been almost embarrassed by how provincial the folk back home seem. I just want them to play it cool, to not act so dramatic when I talk about rents of $2000 (that are more than their mortgages). But when I start thinking they're ignorant, I think, "I suck!" Because when I go back to Boston or New York and meet people who've never been west of the Mississippi (or the Hudson) I think, "Who are you people?"

Come to think of it, who am I? Maybe Neil Diamond, too, has had his "gamekeeper" moment:

...nowadays I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine but it ain't home,
New York's home, but it ain't mine no more
"I am," I said
to no one there
and no one heard at all...

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