Off to Oz

The tension before taking off. How do you pack it all and go? Zippers inside zippers. A tetris of objects playing tricks of easiness. Summer clothes. THC tea, a blotter sheet, Dr. Bronner’s soap, Goo Gone for sticky messes. Rhodiola and yerba mate. 37 books. I’m ready. Flying into another season. The farthest I’ve ever been from home. My cells shake, anticipate. Preparing for a whole new world. New rules, new government, new order. No more sativa mornings. Walks through redwoods. No more Bart rides to 16th. Delayed by people jumping. New transit, new accent, new coffee shops. Wondering what will be. A place that seems mythical. A place also fucked by foundations of colonization, but somehow seems to function in a streamlined smoothness of well-being that gleams from many Aussies I meet. Generally okay. No worries. And that’s what scares me. The main thing I’ll miss and maybe even crave in Australia is friction to rub against. Something to be bothered about. An itch. Something that makes me watch out. Something that makes me critical. All the chaos home provides. The subsequent yearning to make, to do, to deconstruct, to transform. What will I do in a land called Oz? The same as anywhere: think, feel, read, write. Burn and rebuild energy. But will Australia irk me the same way? Will the people agitate towards change like they do in the Bay? Will there be access to the same niches of information and conversation? Talks on Tuesdays. Will the people care about what’s happening around them? Or are they too far removed, hearing yesterday’s news? Will the flag be half-mast everyday there too? Lifted into the air by migrants on minimum wage while those who pay to have it risen stay inside, scheming. The American Dream. If everything is relatively sane and easy-going down under, then what is there to reach? (Isn’t simply being there wrong?) Where’s the dirt? (Paved by Victorians seeking gold. Stolen generations.) Maybe it’s fertile soil for groovy music and laid-back design of neon pinks and blues. Quality gastronomy. I’m not sure how far I’ll go slipping into pleasure. A new place to consume. You can’t compare the two, but you can feel them differently. When you mix all the paint the color turns brown. Once at a bar in Paris, drinking my favorite color green, I overheard a table of Aussies saying they’ll never go to the United States. Because of the ignorance, the obesity. All the shit. The competition, the stress, the drugs, the mess, the machine. But I’ll miss the mud that springs lotuses of reform the world watches and replicates. The tallest trees and the dry breeze. I’ll miss California. Not the border, but what happens within. Channels of hope to grasp in the dark. The ones that pull you through and push you forward. This is just a time capsule of thoughts. A photograph. Maybe in a year I’ll have some answers to these questions. Maybe I’ll be wrong, again. And look, I’m outside of myself. Already there, wondering how next will be.

*

Here. Made it. First impression: love.

West

Three hundred years ago he moved from Bern and changed his name from Aebi to Avey to sound a bit more neutral, a bit more American. I’ve been thinking more about what it means to be American. Who, how, why. I have some reference points. It was easy to move to Germany. Music I know is everywhere I go. My Colombian father-in-law told me to hide my passport because it might get stolen. I underestimate that blue cover. The public schools and libraries. Hiding a heritage of human sorrow and potential. Somehow still allergic to this land. Poison oak forms a resistance on the trails we blaze. Oozing with red bumps, making me question the way. I’m the non-native species. Make it more American. But how? From the jazz to the mundane. Paint the spectrum black or white. The distance between what you know and want to know lies in what you create. Between places you’ve been and places you can’t imagine. How could it be so hard to write under your parents’ roof when they gave you every neuron? Drive north on the 1. A loud bed and breakfast might be awkward. Let’s take a quarter and go explore. Another pioneer couple walking on a boneyard of tree branches. Looks like beach cheese. Sitting halfway up a Monterey cypress. Staring at the setting sun with the moon to our back. This place makes me sleepless. I heard a man inside the wall with a pickaxe. Crumbling down the structure from the inside out. But then the mother of slumber blacked out my vision with her placement of fill-in-the-box. I’m home. Horace Greeley might have told you to “Go west, young man,” but I’m called by the wild poppies and cortaderia. Those here before us. Junipero Serra paved the way, killing with faith. Priests on a mission overlook young women. Left out of the literature. I’m pulled in by the Pacific, the way redwoods hold on to their neighbors’ roots. Prioritizing nourishment. A church turned grocery store. Looking at another “All Are Welcome Here” sign made Sam ask what that says about other places. A bold statement against a dark reality. But damn this place is hard to reach.