Home/Away from Home

Ten years ago this month, I returned to the United States after living in Ireland and England for six years. When I landed at the airport in Chicago and saw all the baseball caps and tapered blue jeans, I thought, “Why did I come back to this place?” And there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t asked myself that same question.

I had spent the waiting hours at my gate in Dublin crying while strangers sometimes glanced at me, the seven-hour flight to Chicago crying while my seatmates avoided me, and my first two weeks back on American soil crying until I accepted my fate and moved on.

After all, I had spent hours crying a year and a half before that, when I returned to Ireland after a six-month stint with my mother in Virginia. We sat next to the security line at Reagan National airport hugging each other with tears streaming down our cheeks because neither of us wanted to say goodbye.

Before we even got there, I had mistakenly informed my mother that my flight was going out of Dulles, and we had to race from one airport to the next to ensure I made it in time (all the while I sat in the car praying that we wouldn’t and feeling ashamed of myself, but I knew that I had to go back and make one last-ditch effort to salvage the relationship I was in at the time).

Such is the life of a person with dual citizenship. We’re never quite home in either place, never quite happy to be leaving or arriving, and nevertheless, here we are. Nevertheless, here I am.

Littler Hands Sprang Up from the Grass

I keep a sporadic audio diary on a handheld Sony dictaphone. I sat down to transfer some files that I’ll be sending to Annelyse Gelman for a strange collaboration. In searching for the correct files, I listened to one of my older ones in which I share two passages from Joanna Russ’s The Female Man.

Listen to an excerpt from The Female Man

Audio transcript: “The following is a line from The Female Man by Joanna Russ:

‘I know it’s supposed to be virtuous to run healthily through fields of flowers, but I like bars, hotels, air conditioning, good restaurants, and air transport, and I told her so.’

This book has really beautiful descriptions of technology existing in a sort of wilderness. Actually, ‘wilderness’ is used in one of my favorite passages so far. It goes:

‘Within the dome was a wilderness of machines, dead on their sides, some turned inside out, their guts spilling onto the grass. From an extended framework under the roof swung hands as big as three men. One of these picked up a car and dropped it. The sides of the car fell off. Littler hands sprang up from the grass.'”

Leaves, Apples, Magpie Nests

For the past six weeks, I have been in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. How will I ever leave this place? These photos come from my own temporary backyard, that of Casita #8, the “workman’s casita” as an entry in the house’s journal attests.

According to prior inhabitants, a muse lives here and, with the assistance of magpies, skunks, and the three aspen sisters, guides her charges to prolific creation. I love that I can step outside and see this sky and smell these little red apples, at least for a few weeks longer.