other places

Ha Ha Tonka

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The muted, sepia topography below my portico is assumedly Tulsa, Oklahoma. I appreciate that prior to takeoff, the pilot listed key cities he’d take us over. Nostalgic names of towns I may never see - Liberal, Kansas, Lovelock, Nevada. I wonder if the good citizens of Liberal are as far to the right as the statistics tally, or are as mortified as I that a self-winder has the world stage. (disclaimer: my first draft was a windbag of political ranting that you're spared from. I'm on month-two of being in business, and our ties are loose. Plus I know you have NPR, wherever you are.)

Anyway. I’m not writing about Liberal, Kansas. I'm writing about Virginia, from which I’m hurtling back towards San Francisco and whatever the hell I play at over there.

I love the East and the lite smattering of southern that VA gracefully clings to. I love the redbrick buildings that are careless to earthquakes’ sway. Notched pine floors under dusty crystal chandeliers. Double porches, cobbled streets, how everyone raises an acknowledging hand to me from their car when I’m running, because who wouldn’t acknowledge the one and only person that’s doing that sort of thing by a Civil War trench? I love listening to crows caw over mown soybeans, and the cracked oil paintings of long-dead soldiers. Rebels or Yanks; no different in posthumous solemnity. 

I love being called “honey” by both sweet ladies with powdered cheeks AND gin-nosed booming gentlemen. I love nosing around the six-acres my father maintains like a Canadian National Forest, sprawling in deep beds of fallen pine needles piled by his enthusiastic collection of concrete animals, (different post. Loose ties, loose ties).

But Virginia does weird things to me, too. Every time I go back I believe surely THIS time I’ll feel righteous enough in my choices to shrug off withering opinions from the Distant and Dated. This time I’ll be able to stuff down the creep of uncertainty with becoming someone else 2,000+ miles away. This time I won’t feel like an ass because I can’t spend enough time with every one I’ve ever loved to reaffirm I still love them. This time I won’t get frustrated with my father’s regimented schedule, my mother’s slide of time, my brother’s diatribes.

Now are you wishing I had stuck with my original plan of disaffected political discourse?

So yeah, Virginia makes me feel like a native and an alien all at once. It makes me feel a LOT, something my New Age-y self-help books croon is essential to finding my Inner Truth/Magmic Core/Kundalini/”HELLO” nametag sticker. All this feeling usually results in mild self-medication and demanded validation from a choice few. You know who you are, thanks for stroking my ego. 

There have been times this "processing" works in my favor; more often I end up over Tulsa, Oklahoma too soon with too many questions and loose ties.