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What Home Is

Fall in Minnesota.
What Home Is
for & with Ginevra Kirkland

I’ve lived so many places I don’t know where I’m from. Everywhere seems like the town I could have lived & died in, & maybe I did.

I was there in the POW camp with the German soldier who only wanted to get back to his herring, beer, & fraulein. I was in Otis, Colorado, a town so peaceful the only bar was on the second floor of an old hotel. I was a Mainer, or Mainiac, & lived 3 years in its white, bright, unmoving postcard.

Like everyone, I was born somewhere, South Dakota to be exact. My parents were from European cities (Berlin, Liverpool) & South Dakota was an accident, a refuge, a surprise, but never where they were from. Even though I feel Lutheran, Norwegian, midwestern, in fact I’m an urban Jew. But not really, since I’m from a small town, a British mother, a German Jewish father & a past of chopping wood to heat my house.

I lived in Michigan where the sky never cleared so I took acid every day because I didn’t know how else to see colors. I lived in Maryland right off an Army base, because my friends, all of whom I was in love with & still am, were in the service. I lived in Colorado, which was the wrong direction, even though I didn’t know yet that New York was possible. I lived in an old Dodge schoolbus & took my home everywhere I went, but it wasn’t.

I was on the Florida coast when rockets went up, looking for a home far beyond anything we knew. I was on a lake in South Carolina that smelled more like home than anywhere except the windy midwestern prairie. I was looking for a road in New Hampshire where I once drank birch syrup. I fell asleep one night & woke up under a redwood.

I considered Norwalk, Ohio, & Spartanburg, South Carolina, & Opelika, Alabama, second homes but everybody there has forgotten me.

I got lost in the monochromatic streets of Cairo but knew my way to the wrongly mapped Napoleonic Museum in a past-life way.

I believe Buenos Aires exists, although I’ve never been to South America. I believe that if I were forced to leave my home, I would happily scrub toilets in a different language. I believe that “they” don’t mind as much as “we” & I am ashamed.

I’m afraid that I still take that schoolbus everywhere I go.

I think about the Arctic more than anywhere else but I’ve never been north of Inverness, Scotland. I’ve been to 49 states but not Alaska.

No one could call me house-proud.

I said no to the gift of a few acres of land in Maine.

I said no to a beautiful old house in Vermont.

I said no when I had the chance to stay home & see if I was home.

The yellow mustard waving across Idaho. The tiny bright pasques on the plains. The shabby irresistible road between San Antonio and the Mexican border. Cool Albuquerque. The scary road winding down from Mesa Verde National Park.

Traffic tickets in Eureka, California; Mobridge, South Dakota; Vaughn, New Mexico; New York New York New York.

Lightning Field, New Mexico.
Spiral Jetty, Utah.
Sun Tunnels, Nevada.
Land art isn’t home, either.

Big isn’t home. Small isn’t home. Love isn’t home. Hallelujah isn’t home. The cat clutching a catnip banana, he might be home.
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