By the way, I’m moving from the east coast to the west coast for 5 months. For a gal who’s lived in the same neighborhood her entire life, and never considered going anywhere else “for real,” that’s a bit of a change. Writing is my coping and processing method, so this is my little brainchild I’ve been poking at for a few weeks. I know it’s a bit wordy. Yes, the sentences are very long, and one may almost say they run on. Let’s just call it unmetered poetry.
Oh, right, like I’m really going to miss this, this Georgia, this cesspool of country hayseeds who are best friends with their cousins and consider themselves fancy-schmancy if they own one formal outfit; their idea of a date is drinking beer while watching the play-offs and having wing-eating contests.
I hate this state, the fire ants, the unwanted guests lingering even though they already said goodbye three times, the hot air sticky with moisture that’s only enjoyed by the fat roaches… I want to get out of this place where all the houses and boots and cars are stained red with clay, and the sky is stained pink and gold and spring-green with the remnants of daylight.
This muggy weather is abominable, like the Creator forgot to turn off the shower, and the steam is leaking into the realm of men. The raindrops fall steadily and ceaselessly like He was shaking them through a strainer. They’re so soft that you’d hardly realize you’re wet if it weren’t for the streetlights, that, whenever you drive past them, illuminate the hundreds of tiny shooting stars, awakening you to your own dampness and coldness. Soon I will be in a land akin to the Big Rock Candy Mountains – where there isn’t any snow, and the rain doesn’t fall, and the wind doesn’t blow. And I say it’s about time!
How many times have I declared I wasn’t born for the South, with its ludicrously tall and fluffy biscuits, its syrupy sweet tea, its red X’s of the Confederate flag that my ancestors flew, its twangy accents of Baptists preachers whose daughters wear skirts as they work on the farms? How often have I looked West, towards a land like Montana, where the wind is so bitterly cold your skin turns to leather while you watch, and it’s so lonely you begin to wonder where humanity could be hiding?
I have despised this land of wet grass, with its orchards (most of which don’t even grow peaches), the invasive kudzu that these uncultured people planted in ignorance, and now have to keep at bay with Roundup or goats. I drive in fear of a crazed deer, antlers sprouting from its blank forehead, darting in front of me, and trying to enter through my windshield; I can see them lurking, still as marble, between the trees, flicking up their white tails of surrender when they flee.
And the racketing red cardinals, that flit through with their flamboyant feathers and goofy tall cap, their blacked out mask around their eyes. What are they trying to hide, these thieves of the food I leave for the blue jays? In California there are none of these fat and songless fowl; in California there fly the obscenely-blue birds, with their shrieks of laughter and victory.
It will be a relief to not get hooked by the blackberry thorns that make you pay for trying to get just a taste of the big berries, that are probably bitter and have a wasp hiding behind them anyway. Why do they have to tempt you with their fat bulbs of fruit, so purple they’re nearly black, either like a flagpole out of your reach, or else shyly curled under the leaves, so that someone shorter than you will find them first?
And don’t get me started on these awful roads you find in the country! Just miles of unpaved curves, as rough and unpredictable as the people who live on them, branching in every random direction like a childish scribble in crayon on the wall. You’d have better luck untangling the inhabitants’ (remarkably similar) genealogical records than these roads.
The houses are far removed from these roads (if they even deserve to be called such), and the driveways are like depressing personal highways, skinny and full of mud. There are probably some lumbering cows in the front, too, submerging their lumpy bodies in a brown pond when the heat is unbearable; the same pond that the obnoxious geese visit to find lunch, paying for their meal with their droppings.
The mailboxes totter like the drunken men they belong to, standing on PVC pipe or an old tire. I wouldn’t be surprised to find one suspended from a tree branch like a swing. These locals perplex me, and I can’t wait to get away from them. How many cars do they have anyway? Or more pertinently, how many of the dozen cars in their yard actually drive? Sometimes I’m inclined to think none of them do; there are parts scattered, orange with rust and grey with age, bigger than you think because most of the piece is lurking below the matted weeds, ready to strike at any unsuspecting heel that might like to be impaled; an iceberg of tetanus. The trucks litter the yards, like a diagram of entropy, displaying various levels of disrepair. It’s melancholy, all right, but not as bad-looking as the houses that also squat like a wart in the yard.
Yes, I’ll be glad to remove myself from this buggy town, from these strangers who smile at me although they don’t even know me, from the postal service people who pet my dogs instead of doing their job, from the chauvinistic police officers who ask if I need any help while my car is broken down at the library (even though I told them a dozen times my dad was on the way and they didn’t need to stay). These people have no sense of propriety, and they say the most insensitive things about minorities. Then to make things worse, they think that they can excuse themselves from their bigotry by inviting their African-American friend to church, or by holding the door open for a pregnant woman. Please, it takes more than housing a Chinese foreign exchange student to make up for the fact that your great-grandfather owned a slave.
This state is positively disgraceful, and most people don’t even know how to make themselves look nice. Girls will put on mascara and say they’re done with makeup for the day, then go out in public with their hair still sleepy, wearing their brother’s plaid shirt, thinking their sunny smile will be enough to make them pretty. Guys will don the same sports jersey they’ve been wearing for the past week, say “excuse me, miss” to the waitress, and think they’re pretty classy. Please. Your habitual politeness won’t distract me from the fact that you still smell like the hay in the lawn you mowed yesterday and the mutt that licked you goodbye before you left this morning.
I’ll pack my bags and shoulder my backpack without looking back to this place where you can get greasy fried chicken at any establishment that sells food, where folks think yellow grits are good and oatmeal dotted with fruit is tasty, and gassy collard greens are necessary for any family occasion. Ha, you think Georgia will be on my mind when I’m in the land of freedom, where the streets are friendly to anyone, from the business man to the homeless woman to the punk kid smoking weed?
See if I think back to my home at all when the glorious rain-free days begin, and people are organized enough to water their lawns on schedule. It won’t even occur to me to remember Southern food when I’m surrounded by Californian pizza, where the chefs even sneak in a pleasant surprise of nice, fatty pork without charging extra. I won’t be hassled at all out there; I don’t enjoy the services of any churches nearby, so I’ll have Sundays free – plus the nearest rock climbing gym is hours away, so I won’t be distracted with wasting time there, either.
Finally I’ll be free of distractions. Here, I have friends who text and call me at all the worst possible times, blowing up my phone and annoying me. They keep wanting to get together, not seeming to realize that being friends for seven years doesn’t mean I want to see you more than once a month! And then there are other distractions: windows everywhere, tempting me to look outside at this Georgian land, the myriad oak and maple leaves that spin, suspended in wind, effacing my driveway. The second-story window of my bedroom – how I despise it! How many sleepless nights has it given me, luring me, illuminating the room with the sickly pale glow of a watchful moon? How many times has that window made me nervous with the height, with the stark power it offered me – “Look around at all these trees!” it sang to me, like a siren in the cold waters. “Just look, and look, see how far! There are trees, so many trees, you can see them all with me!”
Trees. I can’t escape them – the trees are everywhere, they encroach even on the cities. My house is hidden by the trees playing London Bridge above my roof. Stepping on the crackling leaves fills my mind with the most perversely-distracting poetry, and I’ll be glad to leave all that behind, and live in the city where I can focus on the moment.
I’ll have endless free time to walk through the sidewalks where you may come across any wild adventure; maybe stray cats offering Uber services to fleas, or a man herding his geese along (is he drunk or not?? What an adventure of breathless wonder awaits me!). Or perhaps today it will be men dressed in fine suits who tense up when I approach, or a polite shirtless gentlemen who tells me I look nice as he rides by on a child’s bike. Oh, it will be a fine life, all right, away from those country bumpkins who find more meaning in the lyrics to “Chicken Fried” than in the Constitution of their own nation. They can’t keep track of the names and birthdays of their half-dozen wild and roving children, but they have that 2nd amendment memorized by heart (or else it’s tattooed on their arm for easy reference).
Over in California, the wildfires blaze as free as the social reform in the hearts of the inhabitants. It’s a tidal wave of change and social justice, clearing every bit of stubble and misogyny in its path, starting the spark that will lead to a nationwide political and cultural makeover. And I get to be there when it does! It’s so refreshing to be hit on by women instead of men for a change, to smell the perfume of liberty in the open streets, wafting through in the guise of marijuana smoke. I’ll get to experience new habits, like locking the car door during the day, and checking for mail before some other ambitious soul gets to it first. It’s like a fun little challenge to add to each day; how to avoid being the victim of a crime. Maybe for the first time in my life, I’ll get to call the police and report something! With such daily shocks, I probably won’t have to buy any espresso from the moody and possibly-high barista while I’m there. And no need for movies when the drama surrounds you every time you go outside!
Yes, on the other coast I’ll be free from the people who go crazy about a big hunk of granite that works as a screen for a million dots of light to make shapes on as a ridiculous song plays. I won’t have to deal with the warm smell of chickens assailing my nose every few miles, or the clingy feathers that float like dazed snowflakes behind the trucks that cart them to their demise.
It will be a welcome change to get out of Georgia and into the glamorous state of California. Only six more hours and counting…
News Flash: That was a satire.
Have a wonderful day,