I’m burning for San Antonio again. I’m stuck, I’m fixated, I need to go to see this city, this adobe, Spanish hot, American city. So maybe the way this desire came to is not the stuff of holy visions, but now that this desire has seeped into my bones it carries all the weight of a quest for me from the Universe, delivered from the holy mouth of a prophet.
I find myself in fits, burning for San Antone. My breathing and my heart rate quicken, my body becomes consumed with desire all of it bent towards this one city.
It almost feels like something lies there waiting for me, or the city itself is somehow transformative. Like there is something more and that thing is in San Antonio.
My greater purpose lies baking in the desert by the Alamo, and I lie halfway ‘round the world gasping for it. Salivating, sweating, dripping for it.
I will find some way to get there. I will rid myself of this unholy possession, this desperate drive, desire. I will find the means and I will bake myself in the Texan sun.
This thirst will be quenched, this hunger sated, this holy mission fulfilled, so help me all the powers of coincidence and chance.
-July 16, 2010. My journal.
I haven’t made it to Texas, yet. There is a chance that my quest to learn Arabic may yet take me there, funnily enough. But at age 16 I was obsessed with America, hellbent on understanding this country.
It was my teenage rebellion, to find the one thing my mother didn’t want me to be: an American.
It seems like a foolish dream now. Even though Europe is falling to the same old patterns of hatred and violence that seem like a pathetic echo of the 20th c. America is showing her true face again and it is not something that I will ever understand.
I’m from the smallest state in the Union, America is too big for me to understand. That you can drive for hours and never leave the boundaries of your state is literally incomprehensible to me. More than that, not knowing your neighbors seems like a true impossibility.
Europe is soaked in old blood. Its history is that of neighbors murdering their neighbors murdering their distant cousins in blood feuds and over ancient histories. The history of the Balkans is all the little twisted stories of people on rocky hillsides without anything to blunt the pain of living.
The American west has some of that stripped clean, lean existence: alone, in the deserts and the plains, knowing that disease, starvation, and loneliness are all to likely to come knocking. But it’s the history of conquerors. A land artificially made new, by means of blood, by means of death, by means of broken promises and bad faith.
I can’t understand a history like that. I can understand a history that says This too shall pass, and the songs that go, You won’t have to worry and you won’t have to cry, over in the old golden land but those are stories of generations of not having.
Maybe I can find those in Virginia. Maybe the reservations, and in Black churches, but I can’t reach out and touch middle America. I can’t learn the shape of the history between the Mississippi and the Pacific.