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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

drawers and windows

When I travel, I don't really concern myself with the drawers in the bathroom, or what closet has hangers. Everything stays in a piece of soft luggage, dirty clothes systematically on the bottom. When I sleep on a friend's couch, and offer to cook dinner - -I forget what drawers have the spatulas, or a corkscrew, no matter how many times I stay there.

In this new place, I still feel temporary. I've tried to put shaving things where they should be, toilet paper where it can be found. But it doesn't feel real yet, even though I know it is home. It smells like my chili, and the coffee grounds and the eggshells I should throw. The closets are getting full of jeans and cameras and guitar tuners.

Maybe it's because I had to get rid of most of my books when I had to leave the US. Books on a shelf are significant in a house. It's the first place I look when I visit one - -not judging...more wondering what we have in common.

I have to cart things from the old place in a giant rolling piece of orange luggage, sliding over humps in the snow. I brought a pile of E's books before mine. I did bring one - - a 1st English edition of Rilke's The Roses and The Windows. I can still remember finding it in my college library, reading the whole thing standing there in the stacks.

I keep it on the windowsill for now. It feels cold when I touch it in the morning, having coffee.

Comments

The Expatresse said…
I gave away 17 boxes of books when we moved to Moscow from Bratislava. We still have tons, though. We both live in fear of having nothing to read.

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