Dangerous Compassions


Lately my favorite meal is buttered toast and veggie sausage.  Two pieces of toast, two patties.  Somehow the simplicity and ease.  Ming can make it for me.

Lately I’ve made some packet meals.  We get them free from the pantry.  You put a cup and a half of water to boil then half a cup of milk and a little butter.  Add the packet contents, simmer for 10 minutes.

This is not cooking.  R came over, asked, what are you making?

I said, I didn’t make it.  It’s a packet meal.  Fake food.  He thought it was funny.  It’s like glorified mac and cheese. 

Tonight, Ming is at the May Day march.  I made a packet but put a bunch of fresh broccoli in it that J gave me yesterday.  So that’s an improvement at least.  But it’s very salty.

I was talking to my good friend in England.  What’s England?  He says he thinks England is real.  What’s United States?

“American dream is only a dream.”  Sometimes I get the line in my head, “Even though my nose don’t work, I smell trouble, I smell trouble.”

When I was a teenager, listening to Simon and Garfunkel, listening to “America” the song, with my favorite line, “I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera.”  Trying to figure out what my country was, woefully unprepared to do so, having grown up in a very strange place in California near the coast, very unrepresentative of my country, having very subtle seasons, no hot or cold, and only white people and Mexican-American people.

I remember, my first move as an adult, to Santa Barbara for school–that place I really love.  It smells like home to me, the ocean and the anise by the road.  It smells like comfort and safety.  Bottlebrush trees, eucalyptus trees, nice parks, easy weather, surfers, meeting a surfer on the trail–he’s wearing Tevas and has a dog off-leash.  I always wanted to move back there.

But it’s kind of a daydream, to me.  Then Orange County for grad school was confusing to me.  I didn’t understand LA or Orange County.  I couldn’t make sense of them.  The huge wide freeways, the different cities all smashed together into megacities.  I felt uncomfortable.

Irvine was a weird place.  UC Irvine was also.  It didn’t seem organic to me, like a real homeland that grows out of necessity and with grace.  It seemed like a master-planned mistake.  Before, a long time ago, it must have been a real homeland, for some people.  But then, all that was vanished.  It had become a pit stop to get a degree and move on.

I remember in Sacramento finally feeling like I had found a city for me.  There was diversity.  I need to be in a city, and I need all different kinds of people. 

I remember going to the big farmers market under the freeway and feeling deeply nourished to be around all different kinds of people buying their veg.  Different clothes, different languages.  Like I could breathe.  Like it was a real place.

But what’s America–what’s a border?  A border is an idea.  The butterfly doesn’t care what country it’s in.  It flies where it needs to.  It’s a citizen of the world.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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