Another ocean crossed only to have to fly back again: settled less than resettling, seeing less than never leaving. Months spent guarding against such exits: to forget first feeling unmoored between South Carolina and São Paulo, to forget her distance and insomnia. Where loss makes sense as loss: to be stateless once again, to never glance at your timepiece. Where’s your money, property, marriage, retirement, dying: Ohio, like an old wide coffee smile at the hardware store.
In the state you are rarely called: and so there are calls you will never make again. Then the questions: counter what you are asked with remarks on weight, on memory. The American language is no longer landscape: it irritates and pricks envy, vocal-fried into a panic mistaken for empowerment. Keep coming cross the word cant: and all those huge portions make you wonder, quasi-artisanal as compared to what?
Yes, it could be amazing: but there is no desire for your life to ever be ridiculously awesome. It is just the dawn sky against the late autumn yellow across the street: that is as much as you hope to remember. For you are no longer active in the community: hardly ever searching out craft beers, eating enough BBQ, pursuing milestones and documenting them, or agreeing with the firing squads. You are not amazing and you rarely look fabulous: but it’s OK, we still love it, yay.
A plate of monoculture served up hot at the restaurant on Easton & Middlebranch called The Bistro: tonight there will be a tasting at The Crush House and a beer at The Brew House followed by dinner at The Kitchen. Sir? Sir! No property, no car, no equity: but you own their same dread. And you will receive no prize for keeping bored with the USA except: Is this going home with you today? Is everything tasting perfect tonight?
The boredom of your national suburb leads to another nation’s boredom: big families haunted by regret in North Canton, Wooster, Jackson, Massillon, Barbertucky, Strongsville, North Olmsted, Medina. An abandoned Lexus on the side of Route 8 in Akron: such luxuriance and abundance, such responsibility to a present not already full of shock. They chat about peak oil, the police, test drives, wine: meanwhile you live on a naked island where there are no children, no dads, no cars, just trees.
This is not the end but the beginning: no makeup or nationalists, no cowboy boots. Skirt down Cleveland’s Superior Viaduct without moving from your bed: a witness to the storm tearing apart the Ohio sky. It’s OK that you have left: your exit marked the onset of our amnesia. After all, this is the state of children not your own: a state of sentimental loss, a state flummoxed by dense aggression. So many beards on TV: saxifrage grows and barley seed sliced in every state of the union. Sir? Sir!
This has become a town of fake safety signals: we pay no more heed to the danger zone. On the nation’s birthday only the gun library operates: this state as grey as any other, houses as beige. No one picks up their phones because they are out, too tired: you must call back endlessly to the new land-lines. Short-circuit a route away from the pancultural: where family equals love, money, security. Family justifies all, none of it for sale: eat, pray, love, thug and shrug. So many achievements this year to be stoked on: let me list them for you, or better yet, just check out my photos.
You receive a gift in the state: The. Best. Gift. Ever. And the gift is: flow my tears. And the resolution is: less sobbing, more weeping. Down on your knees in an aisle in the middle of Marc’s? Under the sign for frozen foods that just lights up as Froze? While your mother looks for sweet potatoes? See it, believe it: that’s a real hinge moment.
In the state you must be as vigilant towards the way you are treated as you treat others: she tells you the plot of Come Back, Little Sheba. All exchanges remain commercial: everyone needs your e-mail address, and the state’s women cannot stop offering you new credit cards. The state’s men eat with their camo ball caps on, pick their teeth, question the waitress about the check: the state’s daughters are not shocked by this behavior, cause no one can afford to be.
The waitress asks: Is everything cooked perfect? Don’t you love it? Yes, yes you do love it. And the owner asks: How’s the steak, fabulous? Yes: Phenomenal. And he adds: Phenomenal, fabulous, same thing. This is the know-it-all state: we know everything there is to know about the real food and drink and every combination thereof. In this state you may be poor and incorrect: you may have barely done anything before you have done too much. But while walking out to get the mail on an icy evening, take note: they will soon be stateless, too.
Any distance from the state illuminates the tragedy of the distance on which it was built: the state is aging. And its tragedy is in how it ages: its tragedy is its youth. In this state you may not get it: so you may as well not get it elsewhere. There, the only real spirit animal is the train horn: take that train back to witnessing from afar. The verdicts, shootings, cannabis hot chocolate: all these advocates for empowerment and justice and community. Sir? Sir! Return in order to apply to remain an alien: return to ride in the dark, an advocate for statelessness, too.