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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

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Not Dead to Me



Everytime my girlfriend Georgia goes home to Australia for a visit; I hold my breath and cross my fingers and hope and pray she doesn't decide to stay. When she does come back, and is quiet and confused and a little angry for a few days, I understand exactly how she feels. When I am having a "moment" and am asking myself how the hell I got here, and exactly how much longer do I intend to give this mad experiment, I ring Georgia up, and she makes me tea. She is my consulate, my embassy, my foreign attache, my commonwealth partner, my writing partner, my stylist and my compatriot in expatriotism. Here she is:

THE REASON I AM STILL IN AMERICA

The reason I am still in America is the west.
The wide open skies which Indians read as they fished in the churning rivers,
after riding through mountains and into chartreuse valleys dotted with wild flowers.
The reason I am still in America is that cities like New York and Chicago exist and
house art by Franz Kline and Twombly and Rothenberg.
There is music in these cities, music that swells my heart.
Jazz is in America.
Zydeco is in America.
The reason I am still in America is because I like anonymity.
“You can be anyone and anything in America,” my father said, “People give you a go.”
I like black people.
I like their bodies and their walks. I like their attitudes.
I feel privileged and alive when they speak to me.
Sometimes I am scared of them, like in Baltimore when I walked downtown, and they are on their stoops, smoking and staring, and watching me pass.
“You better slow down or you might take off!” They slap their thighs and laugh.
Even that I liked. Later not at the time.
The reason I am still in America is because bears are in America.
I like moose.
Sometimes I miss Kangaroos but not after sighting an elk herd.
The reason I am still in America is because I have to learn to two step and salsa and because my favorite song was, Springsteen’s, The River (after which I named my child.)
Al Green lives in America.
I like the fact that no one calls me mate or Sheila or says, “good-on-ya.”
I even like y’all.
The reason I am still in America is because all my favorite writers are American.
How could I live without knowing where Carson McCuller’s heart got lonely or where Fitzgerald dined or was depressed for that matter.
I had to eat sardines on saltines like Faulkner had Lena do in the haze of the humid south.
I had to drink mint juleps in Kentucky on Derby day.
I had to be in a band that let me play the Banjo and were besotted with Harry Smith’s folk album.
You can not cry when you play the banjo.
The reason I am still in America is because I don’t like pessimism or the tall poppy syndrome that people are ill with back home.
I do not like men who think that surfing is all there is and women should bring them beer.
I am still here because I am hoping to become Hispanic by osmosis.
I want to be called Juanita and have long dark hair and olive skin.
I want to make tamales from corn that I grow.
I need to cross the Tallahatchie Bridge. I need to eat oyster po-boys near a Bayou.
I am in America because I believe that the people can still be heard here.
That democracy will triumph once more.
The reason I am still in America is because you are here.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Natalie said...

I got chills when I read this.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

12:34 PM  
Blogger peefer said...

Being Canadian, I thought I'd relate with every point. That I did not is a testament to the singularity of America. Thanks for the tour, Georgia.

12:58 PM  
Blogger littlepurplecow said...

I love this.

12:27 PM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:54 AM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

how could someone with the poetic name of "georgia" not like america. what a fabulous poem. gingsberg must be smiling in the pureland...........

9:55 AM  

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