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There and Back Again

To all our devoted readers – Kip, Peters, Mingus, Ed – sorry for our absence and lack of posts. We were officially offline and soaking up the California sun, and me with a wee stomach virus.

We´re back. That´s funny. Not funny ha-ha, but funny whaohuh? We returned to Merida last night, late, from across 3 time zones and at least that many worlds away. It was my first time in California. The farthest West I´d previously been was Tuscon, Arizona, when I was only four (I got a good quality geode near the Grand Canyon and my first beer and piñata in the border town Nogales. That´s a long story for another day). We´re home. We´re back in the place where we´re keeping most of our stuff, which isn´t very much and doesn´t even include a bed or a car or a pet. The cat is in New Haven. It may be time to change my definition of home.

Ever since college the question, “Where are you from?” For Malcolm, this has always been a bit tricky, who was born in Key Largo, Florida (The Conch Republic), then lived in Singapore, Cairo, Cyprus, Midcoast Maine, on a boat in St. John, U.S.V.I., California, Maine again, New Haven, and New York, not necessarily in that order.

His stint in Brooklyn was maybe the longest he’d lived anywhere. But he isn´t a New Yorker. He lived in a brownstone. He worked in Midtown. He had a Metrocard and a sneer and read the Post and drank unlimited mimosas somewhere on Sundays.

New Yorkers are super protective of this distinctive appellation, with starry eyed kids from Allentown, PA. moving in everyday, impinging on their lox. And I get that. You pay your dues.

It´s a place unto itself. It has a connotation entirely different from the vast majority of Imperial America. People everywhere can envision its landmarks, skyscape, and accent. When you´re fairly far away, and you lived there for 4 or 5 years, then can you say you´re from there? At least to a passing stranger, a taxi driver, a shopkeeper whose interest is friendly but monetary. To offer a sense of a region, a sensibility, a worldview, without a lot of conversation.

Malcolm graduated from high school in Maine, but he isn´t a fighting Buccaneer, or a fisherman´s son. Where is he from? He spoke Arabic, now forgotten, rode on a tractor with a Cypriat farmer, ate dog meat more than once from a man on a moped, snuck into resort hotels to swim and order drinks. And now he´s wrested himself from a life that didn´t suit his itinerant nature. I´m not saying that Malcolm is a citizen of the world, because that is a jackassy thing to say and it sucks, but he does have a keen instinct to move out of the status quo of the city limits.

Where I´m from is simple, picturesque – shoreline CT, small town New England middle class America will always be the setting for my sense of a home, of ideal childhood, the flora and fauna that feel comfortable and original. Clinton as Eden. I always wanted what was other, beyond, outside, further, but I only made it as far as Boston or New York. Until now. No place felt completely welcoming without also feeling stifling. I´m interested in redefining these terms. People I love are drifting over continents and oceans, some to the other side of the world.

There is no question now that we´re adults and we can´t go home because it´s like that Heraclitean river and it´s – poof – gone. And we´re creating our own families and building beyond the subdivision because we can, because we have satellites and systems and matrices of information and all sorts of invisible mechanisms I don´t even understand. So I can be here : 20.58N 89.37E on the globe and in an instant this entry could be anywhere in time and space. That is, anywhere people read this blog, which is mainly in a basement in Poughkeepsie, NY.

You may have to excuse this entry; I think our trip to California has gone to my head. I know there were seeming non sequiturs, run-ons, cliches and mixed metphors. I didn´t even mention the C-list celebrity whom Malcolm met in Malibu. More on that tomorrow. For now, just this.

There Are 9 Responses So Far. »

  1. “this” is AWESOME!!!! That’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.


  3. You’re read as far away as Germany and New Zealand sugar. Worry not.

    Although now it’s just Detroit Rock City. Feel the Motor Love.

  4. And Brazil.

  5. I’m not from anywhere, either. But I don’t much care for roots – I like to just float along. I’ve seen a lot of cool places.

  6. Believe it or not I keep up with your adventures –

  7. You were here Southern California meeting c-list celebs and you didn’t call me. Jerks.

  8. Elise, I am super sorry. We hardly had time to do anything other than wedding-related functions. This spring for sure!

  9. When I moved to NY they told me you have to live here 10 years before you can call yourself a New Yorker. Normally I just say I’m from Earth.

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