8.26.2005

what bi means to me

For two weeks after I go to the other coast I am dizzy. I reference it as being bi-coastal, but it's as much about

country/city
home/home
family/distance

Because it's includes each of them, the strangeness is multiplied. My sadness about not living near my family gets translated into the oddity of riding the subway again. I am moved to tears by the platform shifting out from under my feet, I am oddly lonely in the cold orange bucket seat. I am also comforted and alone. It's all relief and panic.

At home, my life "back east" is a thing of wonder and resentment. My father introduces me as "My daughter Jenny, she's visiting from New York." Which makes it sound as if I was born there, raised in absentia, a representative from a strange and foreign place. I know he is speaking with pride, but sometimes it seems that he's also trying to distance himself from me. This introduction evokes two reactions: admiration (how do you do it?) and horror (why would you ever?). I alternately resent and utilize both of these reactions. When I feel disapointed in my family, their erasure of my relationships (how is your friend?) I think -- I live somewhere that is not here, I know people that are not this. I am not bound by your fear, or racism, or self-righteousness. Back in the city, I watch the people moving down the street, listen to the conversations at work, and think: I am not like this. I come from some place small and vast. I am not concerned with all of this money, all of this fame-fucking self-centered pseudo-freudian elitism. I birthed a sheep when I was young, I know fields and creeks, I know forrests and farmers. Trailer parks are not distant cultural jokes to me, but the squeaky homes of my family, friends. I am not of this place, I am not like this.

It is cultural capital -- both of them. I get to argue my working class roots and I get to abandon them at my own leisure. I get to be from New York and from down home at the same time, but each time I reference either I am lying. Talking about home feels ill-fitting,dirty. I use it to evoke a legitimacy that it does not bestow. At home, talking about New York is a performance. My life is not glamorous, my experience not half as wordly as it might sound. I have seen famous people in the street, but I am not cavorting with rock stars. It's strange -- I know my world is broader then that of my family and yet, it is not so broad. I know that my family comes from a very different place then most of my east coast/college friends but I share in much of their privilege.

I am left with vertigo. I'm floating around trying to remember exactly what the scent of a field burn tastes like. I think it is sugary, grainy, and dark. But my nose is all clogged with sewer steam, it's own rotting sweetness much the same. I can't seem to get either one straight or remember why they are different.

1 Comments:

Blogger Lesblogs said...

this is totally beautiful.

12:55 AM  

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