Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oh the places you'll go

Indian food first though.  It's hard to find spice here, the palate is accustomed to subtlety, and spice is much more overt than that.

And after?

We wander a labyrinth filled with sights and sounds, whips and chains for our minds to play with, find a spot and stop.  We ignore infringements and invitations, we lock ourselves in, or at least you do.  I follow your lead, however badly.

I see nothing there, neither going in nor going out.  Though I have been there before, a thousand times.  I came here as I child, even worked here as a child.  There is nothing here for me now, just burning incense.  Sage that carries away the ghosts.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

You cannot lie

Focused bliss, capturing a memorized moment in flight.  You were altered.

Imagine your shock, when you hit the ground, no longer running.  

It's a metaphor isn't it?  Immobility your body needs you to witness.  

Can you though?  Do you know what this means?  You cannot shake it off, you cannot slump under its weight.  There is no future for your action and your body knows that.  

Frozen not in time but in freedom, unable to assume, unwilling to cave.  

Friday, November 09, 2012

On the nature of rights

It should feel uncomfortable, or even worse, you know that it should.  You even try to make it so.  Amongst friends, even recent ones, you paint it as unacceptable, inadmissible. 

Careful examination, a wineglass full of truth, paves a different path.  Cobblestone upon living earth, an effort to smooth out something that will never stop moving.    

This isn't their story, it is yours.  They are not witnesses, they are victims.  Neither their crime, nor your punishment - this is a jigsaw puzzle of your making.  Pushed to a corner of the dining room table long ago when it seemed too hard to finish.

Friday, October 19, 2012

On the nature of framework

There is a place where everything is permitted.  It's a small place, relatively speaking, and only one language is spoken there.

The key, and you know this, is establishing the framework.  Nothing seeps out of good framework and you've seen what happens when it isn't good.  Bruises and blood everywhere.  Little stains you can never get rid of.  You've tried everything, or at least you thought you had, to establish some rules.  A boundary or two.      

Imagine your surprise when you realized a whisper would suffice, a gentle line drawn in soft sand.  

And here, all this time, you thought you needed a whip.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Raspberries and red wine

In one month, I will have been living in this country for 15 years.  15 years is a consequential bit of time, it cannot be dismissed as an experiment or an act of whimsy.

When people ask, as they will, how long I've been here, where I'm from, why on earth I'm here, I answer with facts. But that's not what they're looking for.

Behind their questions I hear hidden ones, or maybe I project them there myself.

How can you remember who you are when you are so very far from where you grew up?  From everyone who knows you?  What anchors you?

I never really answer.  I weave pretty tales of cross-cultural communication and assimilation and integration.  But I do not tell them how far from stable, in the most literal sense of the word, being a foreigner is.

I always come home after one of those conversations unsettled.  My perpetual state, but worse on nights like those.

And so I end it the only way I can.  I pour a glass of thick red wine.  A tale of the dirt and sunshine and wood that surrounds me but is not my own.  And raspberries, like those I picked off bushes at my grandmother's house decades ago.  A fruit that can be sweet, but not that much.  An echo of home but no more.  

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Some of my people

I read a book a long time ago.

It was an ethnography and spoke of literacy and poverty and race. Of mill towns along a southern river and the lives people led there.

It took a chapter for me to realize it was a book about places where part of my family comes from.  I was a graduate student, reading case studies about people that lived a life identical to that of my grandmother.  Of mill workers' children that mirrored my mother's childhood experience.  Gunny sack clothing and food stamps for the school cafeteria.  Tobacco field work in the summer and citrus fruit once a year.

I didn't tell anyone in class.  Not because I was ashamed but because I didn't know how to explain what had happened within the space of one generation.  I didn't know how to accurately describe what they had given, fought for, lost and learned.

How could I? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Over the top

Or we could call this


Pastel streets lined with orange trees.  Orange trees with actual oranges on them.  Although they might have been clementines.  So maybe citrus-lined pastel streets is the best way to describe it.

Monte Carlo felt like Vegas if it were owned by Disney.  Or like Candyland for very rich adults.


The coastline was beautiful and made everything next to it look like it was made of marshmallows.  And that is exactly what I needed to see.  A reminder of what is real and what is not.