Better Go Give Blood, Because ...
Okay, so I know we are all supposed to be rational, thinking beings, able to calmly and rationally think away everything that makes us feel bad. It's called the Power of Positive Thinking or something like that.
What I want to know is this: Who thought up all this "rational" business? Did that person ever feel anything at all? I'm not Mr. Spock, and damn it, I don't want to be! The pox take rationality! A plague upon its house!
My sister and cousins decided to sell the family farm in Appalachia. I can't stop them. This isn't some George Clooney movie.
And yes, you kind readers have reminded me that I will always be an Appalachian, even if my name isn't on some parchment in the Bedford County Courthouse.
And yes, the man buying the property has called me multiple times (mostly on weekends at happy hour, when he's feeling particularly garrulous) to assure me that I will always be welcome to come and walk the land.
And YES, Bedford County long ago named the road where the farm is JOHNSON ROAD, so never mind that there's not a single Johnson left on it now ... it used to be nothing but Johnsons. Ergo, the name, Johnson Road. With all the Johnsons gone.
I am a raging beast over this.
What makes me rage is the fact that most rational, educated Americans are just that -- Americans. They may know what country their ancestors came from, but it's a dim memory. So they tell me to ground, center, grieve, and move on.
Trouble is, the rational Americans have gone unglued from their origins. They are blissfully unaware of the agony their ancestors must have felt when leaving the parent country behind. Let me tell you, being a first-generation expatriate is one agonizing haul. The Israelites were Psalming about it back in the Old Testament, when they got carted off to Babylon!
I am happiest now amongst my students, many of whom are expatriated from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and most of them not completely. They still identify as "Dominican" even if they have citizenship. It's great to be around them, because they have the same pride of place that I have, the same white-hot links to a home land. Make no mistake, Appalachia is the Dominican Republic within America. Many of the people who live in Appalachia consider themselves part of another nation, same as the Native Americans. Same as my Dominican students. Same as the Israelites, who wanted to dash their captors' children's heads against the trees.
I'm not going to dash anyone's head against a tree, but I can understand the passion that propels such feelings in an expatriate. In short, I feel like an exile. Maybe I'm not Dante, banished from Florence upon pain of death. But that's how I feel.
Therefore, I, Anne Johnson, do hereby plan to have the Zip code of Artemas, PA tattooed onto my back. I'm going to use part of the ill-gotten gains from the sale of the property to have this done.
Go ahead and be rational if you like. You might devise a method of purifying water ... but you won't write Inferno.