Out There, Looking For It

The inaugural issue of Kiala Givehand’s literary magazine, Generations, features Michelle Puckett’s interview with the late Akilah Oliver.  I found in this interview a great voicing of the way I currently feel in light of my soon-to-begin travels:

One of the things I’m realizing is that you really do make your luck and you control how you live it, if it’s linked to what you love, which if you’re really lucky, is your work and your friends. . .I try to seek out places and cross people who are doing visual art, music and writing– all kinds of writing– from poetry to critical work. It seems important right now to travel, speak another language, if only to order coffee and ask directions, and to make work that sees the world in its complexity. . .To be fully a part of my world– whatever change and time and place it represents– that was one of my expectations for myself. I’m working on it.

Like Akilah Oliver, I too feel that at this stage of my life it is of utmost importance for me to travel. Since my birth, I have sought to immerse myself in the world, in the moment, to try to feel, at least once, that I belonged in it. I have wanted nothing more than to be a part of something. Lately, these walls close in so tightly around me, I feel as if I’m being smothered. Traveling takes much preparation, and since I have been preparing for a month simply for the “beginning” it feels like I’m in even more of a limbo than normal. Leaving my apartment (tomorrow, as it were) is the first official step in this journey I’ve been planning since mid-January. The closer I get to my departure, the more I begin to lose my focus. I start to forget why I am traveling in the first place. Why not just run screaming to the most immediate point of safety? Why get rid of almost everything, pack up the car and hit the road again? Why am I doing this? Then, I read Akilah Oliver’s interview, and I remember. Originally, I wanted to journey somewhere, anywhere, to find something of value. That something needed to be outside the realm of my current experience. I want to wander into a cafe, talk to the people who live there, ask them what they love about the city they’re in, and what they hate about it. I want to find out where they would be if they could be anywhere they want.  I want to hear other languages spoken, even if it’s really the same language but in a different way. And I want to see the mountains, the deserts, the rivers. I want to imagine a land without people and see how the people have changed their landscapes. I want to witness something extraordinary. I want to be part of something beautiful.

Still, I have the distinct feeling that I will be leaving something beautiful as well. In the nearly four years that I’ve been in the Bay Area, I’ve found myself to be a small part of various communities. My fellow graduates at Mills College– going on with their lives with hardly a thought of me, making their own waves in their own extraordinary ways– at one time were people I saw nearly every day. They were people I met up with often for drinks or dinner. I attended their readings, and they mine. I featured them at my shows and kept up with their Facebook statuses. And, still, I support and admire their endeavors. They are all much more dynamic, talented and active than I’ll ever be. I love them and I envy them. And then, there is what’s left in San Francisco’s literary scene after The Beats. What do they call themselves? Outsider Writers? The New Poetry Mission? The Neo-Beats? The San Francisco School? I have no idea. But I’ve been privileged to wander around on the perimeter of this group who form the heart of San Francisco’s new generation. From Charlie Getter and his BART station poetry nights, to the literary legend that has become the Bang Out Reading Series run by Amick Boone and Kevin Hobson, to the American Idol feel of Literary Death Match– I have seen each of these venues and met people I knew and even read with some of them. I’ve been watching these new poets, making friends with them, reading their goings-on as chronicled by their chosen blogger, Evan Karp, who documents almost every reading taking place in the City, it seems. And I’ve loved every minute of it. So why leave now? Why move on when things are starting to ramp up? When I’m having so much damned fun?

I suppose, ultimately, it’s because, at my heart, I’m a wanderer. Perhaps the reason I never feel at home anywhere is because deep in my heart, there is a road. I wander and wander, looking and looking, and perhaps never finding “it.” But, while I’m looking, I’ll just have to keep my eyes open. Then, perhaps, I’ll find something, even if it’s not the thing I expect.

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~ by ImaginaryCanary on February 27, 2011.

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