Monday, 21 November 2011

another nite, another state, another timezone

I'm in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Although many placenames in settler colonies are the marks of colonial history (because, um, Wellington isn't exactly a Maori word aye), there's something about the ones in the US called 'Fort X' which seem just that bit more explicit. This place was a fort. And forts are used in wars. Aye.

The drive to Fort Wayne was very long... I think I must have left St Louis around 1pm, and I pulled in sometime after 9pm... oh, but the 1pm was in Missouri (and Illinois) time, whereas the 9pm was in Indiana time. So it was really only a 7 hour drive that just sounds like it took 8 hours because back before I hit Indianapolis further back down the road there I hit a state line... an imaginary border that doesn't exist but has the power to change the time.

I didn't believe the first couple of clocks which showed the Indiana time. Then I remembered about driving to Chicago from the east and the time change just after Indiana (Chicago's squeezed right up next to Indiana on that end of Illinois so it's pretty close to the time change too), and realised the clocks were right and I was wrong. My clever cellphone had figured it out- and I realised that's what the little 'beep' had been sometime back.

This all reminds me of the hilarious trip to Mexico I took with my sister, our cousin Daniel and his mate Nathan, when we had travelled south but hadn't realised we'd also travelled slightly east - just enough so it made a difference when we spent a whole day in Santa Rosalia thinking how cool it was that the local people were all relaxed about timing and then were sitting around having a few beers and getting ready to go out an hour before midnite when siddenly the town around us outside errupted into celebration... and we realised in one giant thud that it was 12, not 11pm, and our trip to have a Mexican new years celebration had just been thwarted. Haha we still laugh about that!

But the really funny  - and I suppose I mean peculiar rather than haha - thing about all of this is that it's all so arbitrary. These imaginary geographic spatial lines (like state lines) and the passing over timezones that they make possible.

They make other things possible, these state lines. The reason I'm in Fort Wayne is that this is the new location of Concordia Lutheran Seminary which was at Springfield back when Hamuera went there, and so it's possible there are some archives here from those days. The old seminary moved over here from Sprinfield in the mid-1970s when the buildings passed into disrepair. The thing is, it had travelled before, this seminary.

One of the women at the archives in St Louis explained to me how it weas that Indiana and St Louis and Springfield connect with each other... and it all goes back to the Civil War! I can't remember all the details, but basically (if I remember correctly) in Missouri students who were training to be ministers were exempt from serving in the Civil War, but the ones in Illinois had to go regardless. Meanwhile, the school students at an institutino here in Indiana would have had to go to the war because they were the right age for conscription too. So, the church decided to move the Springfield students down to St Louis to share accomodations and buildings with the men training at the seminary there - and the students from  the high school were moved to Springfield because they were exempt there. (Eventually everyone went back to their own places, but when Springfield was closed in the 1970s it moved into buildings in Fort Wayne where the high school was based.) So, in a chess-like move the Lutheran church managed to keep all of these young men moving through the schooling and training systems so there would be an unstopping supply of pastors. Check mate. Check. Mate.

So, I'm in a Fort (right place, wrong time for this to be strictly true) in a new time (well, new to me, but also not new because now I'm back in Toronto time!)... and thinking more about these layers of history. Time and place: these are the constants, the fixed things, that I've been exploring during this trip In Search Of Hamuera. But of course they're not fixed, not at all.

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