Thursday, April 30, 2020

Stagnant

I won't name the worst place I ever lived (it's in the US), but I will say that I spent 5 years and two weeks there and by the time I left, I was a changed person. I reached the lowest point of my life so far during that time, but I cannot say I am sorry I lived there. I learned valuable lessons that I carry with me to this day. I am scarred, but wiser. You know in that old Helen Reddy song, I Am Woman, when she sings, 'Yes, I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain. Yes, I'll pay the price but look how much I've gained.' I feel like that about the place. Did my time, learned a lot, was grateful to escape, not going back.

There was much I did not like about the place--almost everything, in fact. It was not a landscape I found appealing (classified as high desert, there was a lot of dead looking stuff all the time, which was apt, I suppose). It was not a culture I found appealing, either. I was not the only one. Many people who came from elsewhere disliked it and left, as we did. That may be one reason why the place stayed stagnant. The local people were resentful of outsiders and, in fact, wanted to secede from the state and form a new one. Sometimes it was all quite funny, but mostly, it wasn't. People wanted to either keep things as they'd always been, whatever that means, or go back to the 'good old days.' Sound familiar? One guy who had lived in the area his whole life once told me he was proud to be ignorant and that they didn't 'need no people from the east coast coming here and telling us what to think.' I'd gone there from Alaska, but figured that, given his celebration of his own ignorance, it probably wouldn't be useful to tell him that I came there from the north. I also declined to say out loud what I was really thinking, which was that I never tell people WHAT to think, but I would suggest that he give thinking a try. He might discover that it's an activity he enjoys. Hope springs eternal.

There were gripes among the locals, though. There were stores everywhere, but there were not enough places to shop. This was a common whine which was related to another complaint--that people did not go there because the town isn't located on the main highway corridor. Once, I did lose the run of myself and, after the gazillionth time hearing this, I responded without thinking, 'That's not why people don't come here.'

Anyway, that's the background for this poem that I wrote when I was in this ugly place.
INVASIVE SPECIES
Brown.
The color
of a landscape
too long
neglected.

Dried up.
Parched.
Thirsty
for vision
new ideas
and people
who do not
look over 
their shoulders
at yesterday
but ahead
to tomorrow
and what is
possible.

Those with 
deep roots
endlessly repeat
their exclamations
of beauty and
their fierce attachment
to what has always been
and still is
only in their imaginations.

Those who 
have transplanted themselves
are not content
to be dried up
parched,
thirsty.

They search 
for water,
new ideas,
possibilities.

Who do they 
think they are?
There’ll be none
of that here.

Things must
remain
the same
as always.
But maybe with
more shopping.

this picture was taken today in our current home--half a world away from the ugly town in more ways than one!
It's Poetry Day here today, and I think, the last day of Poetry Month in the US, so enjoy a poem or two for the day that's in it! 😊

3 comments:

Susan said...

Hello Shari....I had to chuckle at your dislike of the "unknown" place you lived and disliked in the USA. I have one of those myself and it was ARIZONA. A total of 12 years of my life were spent there. Now I am back (FOREVER) on the east coast. I try to think of the GOOD things about my Arizona experience....some special friends, Mexican food, gorgeous sunsets, etc. and I try NOT to think of the miserable people I met there or of the dreadful times. ha hahaha I liked your post. Sincerely, Susan from Writing Straight from the Heart in blogspot.

JFM/Jan said...

I am so sorry to hear that your living experience here in the USA wasn't a pleasant one.
That is a lovely photo...I love nature.
Have a beautiful evening.
Stay Safe 🌷

Shari Burke said...

Hi Jan--I responded to your comment in a comment on your blog post today :-)

Hi Susan--I'm glad you're back where you want to be! Funny that you mention AZ, because after we left the yucky town and were on the east coast, we got a request for information via a photo site my husband had galleries on. There wasn't much online about the town at that time and this guy found his photos, so asked if we'd mind telling him about the town. He'd gotten a job offer and was wondering whether to take it and move there or stay in AZ. I gave him my honest opinion, but also told him my biases. He thanked me and said he thought he'd decline the job and stay where he was!

I hope you both enjoy this day.