I may have been six years old the first time I flew back to Seattle. When I was six nobody knew where Seattle was.
I may have been five, or even four–I do know that I was two when we flew from Seattle to go live in Marietta Georgia and shortly after that we flew back, and thus I began flying back to Seattle when I was too young to be afraid to fly and I have continued to fly back to Seattle through a debilitating fear of flying until this day, if you leave out the few years when I would not fly but instead got into the habit of taking the train back to Seattle.
I still would like to take the train back to Seattle but am compelled to fly because you do not have to sit next to a stranger for 24 hours when you fly to Seattle like you do if you take the train by yourself and can no longer afford a sleeper because you are no longer in grad school where they keep giving you money to study but have instead finished and then left to be a writer whose disability payments barely cover rent and food for a month.
From here the story could go a number of ways but I have in mind one in particular and then we will see, won’t we, where that deposits us and what it is we are prepared to tackle next. In conversation no one can direct the flow of subject matter because it is an emergent property of two people freely associating–at least in the best of conversations–and responding to each other’s associations with further associations and it goes lurching and dashing and circling and stopping to ponder in depth but without any particular guarantee that any particular moment will enjoy extended attention.
This is not a conversation but it is.
That I do not know whom I am addressing makes it no less a conversation even if I am never present for any response to my address. In addressing nobody in particular but whomever in general the responses I do notice are phantasms of the sort that were carved into my tissues from the very beginning, before there was a beginning. They may or may not correspond to responses that the story might itself meet later on, when I am not there to register them.
Still I cannot be sure of where I am going to settle down next.
What I meant to say was that for many years this flying back to Seattle was the absolute pinnacle of going anywhere ever and this one thing that I learned from my parents if I learned nothing else was that it was of prime importance that we get to fly back to Seattle as often as possible. I did move back to Seattle for a time, and this was also something that had been promised to me for as long as I could remember even though as it turned out later or as I realized later we had never lived in Seattle after I had become part of us but in Tacoma but it was even less likely that anyone where we went after leaving Seattle would have ever heard of Tacoma than of Seattle itself so for most of my childhood I was from Seattle and on my way back there, continuously.
In the late 60s and early 70s mass transit was a mere gleam in the city fathers’ eyes and so the night before we were to fly back to Seattle a family friend would drive us all down to a hotel near the Atlanta airport and we would spend the night there and in the morning take what I suppose was a cab to the airport although I do not remember that part so much as the smell of kerosene fuel and the constant whine of jet engines all through the night when sleep was most often nearly impossible because the next day we would be flying back to Seattle both miraculously and casually as though everyone did it.
But not everyone did it. There were some people from Ohio in my neighborhood, which was at the time a new subdivision of someone’s wooded parcel, most likely someone named Shaw. Nobody in that neighborhood was from Georgia or if they were most had moved to Marietta from somewhere else to work at the city’s largest employer, Lockheed-Martin, except I do not think the Martin was part of the name back then but I do not really know but if I look it up you will never know that I did not know. Unless I do not change this part even if I find out.
I do not recall the neighbors from Ohio ever flying back to Ohio. Maybe they would drive there or maybe they had no reason to return. The kids had sleds which would be pulled out once or twice every winter during the one or two snow or ice storms that we would get. We had asked for sleds citing our neighbor friends’ sleds as evidence that they were reasonable gifts but were told they only had sleds because they were from Ohio and a sled was nearly useless in Georgia. Yes it was nearly so but on those few days when we could ride them down the hill we lived on sleds were at a premium and we all had to take turns on the kids from Ohio’s sleds.
All I knew about Ohio then was that it snowed heavily all winter long. It was not until the tornado hit Xenia that I found out Ohio was capable of worse weather in the springtime than was Georgia and I no longer had any desire to visit not even for regular snow.
I never meant to leave Seattle after finally moving back. I never meant to stay in San Francisco when I moved down here to go to school but I had to tell the state of California that I intended to make it my permanent home because my fellowship stipulated that you had to obtain resident status your first year and so I declared my intentions to stay in California with my fingers crossed behind my back and then after graduation stayed on by accident. I do not know if I will ever return to Seattle but it has only been in the last nine months or so that I have been able to conceive any clear picture of what a future might be.
Not to mistake what a future might be for what a future might look like. That I cannot tell you and you would not be able to tell me and whatever predictions we tried to make based on our most educated guesses would be the least likely ever to come true. Nothing in the future is predictable not even whether I will finish this piece and go read a book although I meant to simply sit and read but got distracted enough to write about what was distracting me. I have my reasons for being apprehensive about the future especially when I consider my relationship to mainstream American culture and what seems to me its dangerous balance on the tip of corporate absolutism and fundamentalist theocracy.
We will see, won’t we, how that plays out. I attend quite often at the irony of my parents’ voting for the people who would have me dead while declaring their love for a person whose face they will not see and voice they will not hear and name they will rarely use. If the lake of fire was a useful disciplinary device the badly-concealed threat of reintegration with the church by force is a feeble continuation of their deepest wish that I succumb to the chastening rod borne by gentle preachers telling you that you probably were hiding some very sinful thought or deed and that this was the cause of all your sorrow.
What they seem not to be able to recognize is that queer children who kill themselves do not do so because queerness itself is mortally dangerous except when we are in the company of those who would love us to death rather than see us love ourselves or each other.
That was not at all what I meant to say but I stand behind it as it is written.