Underthecurrent


Friday in this Town
March 25, 2017, 12:54 am
Filed under: nomadisms

The train glides over the industrial zone to the big box stores.  Below, the motorhomes are lined up along roads where no one will care.  Most have cardboard or insulation on the windows, all look a bit worse for wear from a distance and walking by, maybe unloved or just old.  It seems like a few years ago there were less.  They don’t look like nomadic freedom, sitting along curbs in the bleakest parts of the city, all closed up.  They’re more like shacks on the edges of other cities, encroaching on land too sad for anyone to bother to move them off.  Some have open windows with various kinds of covers to keep the rain out, others just have condensation, either way it’s clear someone is inside the tin box.

The store is empty because it’s a weekday, everything is tidy.  Maybe it’s passing the tin boxes, but this place feels sad too, in spite of the spring flowers lined up outside and the pastel Easter candy inside.

I buy maple syrup, pancake mix, cheap charcuterie (literally, a $5 plastic tray described as this), new underwear made in Vietnam, random things like toothpaste and razors.  The total on leaving is somehow a shock, that those $2 pairs of underwear could add up like this.  It’s a strange, joyless spending spree, almost hypnotic.

*

Why do people even live here,” he says.

People live here because it’s safe and the weather is moderate, don’t they?  Everything is safe.  It’s physically safe.  Your money is safe, relatively.  The water and air are mostly clean, for now.

Some live here because it’s the combination of this safety and the ability to not be so culturally lonely.  They can find people who speak the same mother tongue, who eat the same things and worship the same god(s).  Everyone talks about integration like it’s easy if they’ve never tried to live in another culture.

*

“I was embarrassed to admit how hard it was for me,” she said, “you think it’s a country where I speak the language and we share some common history.  But it’s different, it’s very different and it was very lonely.”

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