Where I'm From

I am from Texas. And a little from Kentucky. Colorado finished me up as a child and grew me up a little before I left altogether and went east. That’s when North Carolina became home and grew me some roots and affixed wings I could actually use – for once – to fly away on my own. When I did, I landed for a bit in London and then, Guatemala. An anomaly if we take in the whole picture. But it’s where my wings took me and it felt right. Rightly fitted wings, if anything. Then, for love, of what I thought was love, or at the very least was the most love I knew at the time, I handed my wings to a man and flew with him to his landing, his home. Which, as it were, I promptly hated. Or moreso, it hated me. Maybe it was a mutual thing. In any case, it chewed me up good even as I hung on in desperation for love – or what I thought was love – and a sheer gritty stubbornness that was delivered to me at birth.

That place was not home. It was an interlude that I bore just as one bears many things in life for a time. Pregnancy. Grief. A bad landlord.

All the while I knew that there was somewhere else. I just didn’t know where.

How does one find home when where one’s from isn’t exactly clear?

Being American is confusing. Being a white American, well.

Half polish by blood, the geography far removed. Welsh by name and again, by blood, but diluted far beyond recognition. A little native American, I’m told. No one knows where exactly. And if I had to guess, probably a little something south of the border or even more scandalous, from African shores.

Maybe that’s why so many white people are so defensive about being white at all. We have no earthly idea where our roots are. We’re unrooted. At best, our roots extend loosely and long, making a mess of any sense of groundedness within much of anything beyond a generation or two. And then, what’s that really? Just the industrial revolution and a lot of migration and tearing down of all kinds of norms and standards and mussing it all up even more. Not much to go on.

If you look at me, you see it. Or more precisely, you don’t see much of any one thing. People guess, and sometimes guess right. For instance, I’m clearly white – so when people guess “the British Isles” or “eastern European, maybe Poland” I politely act impressed but, really now. It’s not terribly shocking, the guess of theirs given the options.

Who made me?

God. That’s the easy answer. My parents, in a bed presumably. But I’m grown enough to know it might not have been a bed at all.

And then, a million bits of geography, chance, lust, risk and stardust. That’s me.

How else can I explain it? It’s too immense.