No, this has nothing at all to do with the movie, which by the way I have never seen. I just like the title. And it is appropriate because that’s where I am tonight, Idaho. I’m here on business and I must admit it is different from Florida. They have mountains and deserts, and the mornings are more than just a little chilly. I’ve never been here before, but I feel very familiar with it in a way. It’s because on his journey south, Roberto de LaHoya, a main character in my second novel, Any Tomorrow: The Curse, passed through here as he journeyed from his home in Reyes Canyon, Montana, seeking nothing more than to find his children, but instead finding his destiny.
It is strange that after writing about this place, after envisioning it, I should find myself here. Stranger still, as my airplane approached Salt Lake City (the second stop on my journey) the woman sitting next to me asked what mountains we had just passed over and I could say with some authority that they were the Wasatch Mountains. I could say this because both the Wasatch and Salt Lake City appear in my novel. I find that experiencing these places after having written about them leaves me with a sense of déjà vu.
As a geographer and a writer I have a certain affinity for places. Places can be as much a character as the men and women we try so desperately to give life to. Places often provide the context, the atmosphere, and the external dynamics of the story. They may also provide the reader with something real, concrete, and identifiable that he or she can understand in a real and physical way. Should the reader desire, he or she could easily trace Roberto de LaHoya’s journey from Montana to Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, all the way to Florida.
One of these days I wish I would be able to follow that journey myself, but not this time. Since I am here at the behest of my corporate masters, my time is not my own. Perhaps someday I will see the whole route for myself, but I suspect that if I should, the circumstances of my journey will be much more pleasant than his.
Have you had an experience like this, one where you could closely identify with the places you either wrote or read about? Did they beckon you to discover their physical existence the way you discovered their virtual application? I hope so.
If you have had an experience like this, why not share by leaving a comment.